Teaching Medical Students Moral Methods

Format Publication ID Version Published
Case 9318 1 January 24, 2013
Penn State University College of Medicine


Ethics is now widely taught in nearly every medical school in the United States. Although we often do an excellent job teaching ethics topics, we are less successful in teaching ethics methods. If we teach only ethics topics, we do students a disservice since they are then only equipped to respond to the particular topics we have taught them about. Conversely, if we are successful in teaching ethics methods, students will be equipped to handle any ethical dilemma they may encounter, since we have given them a framework within which to resolve the problem. The present course, “Finding Right Answers: Resolving Ethical Dilemmas in Medical Practice” was designed to fill this gap, and teach medical students ethics methods.


Volpe R, Myers K. Teaching Medical Students Moral Methods. MedEdPORTAL; 2013. Available from: www.mededportal.org/publication/9318

Educational Objectives

  1. To ensure that students master four methods for moral reasoning: Principlism, Virtue Ethics, Casuistry, and SFNO 
  2. To develop students’ ability to use course concepts in thinking and problem solving 
  3. To further students interpersonal and team interaction skills 
  4. To cultivate an environment of curiosity, collaboration and open-mindedness 


  • Bioethics (MeSH), Decision Making (MeSH), Principlism, Casuistry, Morality

Competencies Addressed

  • Medical
    • Interpersonal & Communication Skills
  • Dental
    • Patient Care

Academic Focus

  • Clinical Sciences
    • Clinical Skills/Doctoring

Professional Interest

  • Medical Ethics
  • Patient Safety/Medical Errors

Intended Audience

  • Professional School
    • Dental Student
    • Medical Student
    • Nursing Student

Instructional Methods

  • Independent Study
  • Lecture
  • Problem-based Learning

Join the Conversation

Share your thoughts with other users. Please sign in to comment on this material.

Material Access

Please sign in to access this material.

Please register for an AAMC account if you do not have one.