Teaching Medical Students Moral Methods
|9318||January 24, 2013||1|
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 Publications; 2013. Available from: https://www.mededportal.org/adea/publication/9318 http://dx.doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9318
- To ensure that students master four methods for moral reasoning: Principlism, Virtue Ethics, Casuistry, and SFNO
- To develop students’ ability to use course concepts in thinking and problem solving
- To further students interpersonal and team interaction skills
- To cultivate an environment of curiosity, collaboration and open-mindedness
- Bioethics (MeSH), Decision Making (MeSH), Principlism, Casuistry, Morality
Interpersonal & Communication Skills
Patient Safety/Medical Errors
Problem-based Learning (PBL)
- Clinical Skills/Doctoring
- Dental Student
Authors & Co-Authors
Rebecca Volpe, PhD
Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine
Kimberly Myers, PhD
Penn State University College of Medicine
Effectiveness and Significance
Student evaluations for the course were positive: students rated the overall helpfulness of the course 4.4 out of 5.0. One student noted, “Every medical student should take an ethics course based on methods. Only discussing cases provides only half of what is necessary to be able to think about the right course of action.” When asked to list the skills students felt more confident in as a result of the course, responses included:
- “Being able to recognize ethical conflicts and putting the issue into a particular framework.”
- “Approaching and resolving an ethical dilemma.”
- “Being objective.”
Tips for Success:
- Students may rebel against the density of some of the readings. They think they do not know how to read this type of material, which of course is ridiculous. Reminding them that they absolutely know how to read complicated material—it’s the same way the read medical textbooks—will help. This material is simply a ‘different kind of dense’ than they are used to.
- The Tuesday sessions (method) are more difficult than the Thursday sessions (content). The readings tend to be harder and the concepts are dryer and more complex. Spending time at the beginning of class on Tuesday to help students truly understand the method they have read about is time well spent.
- On the last day of class, make a grid on the board, and ask students what criteria they believe are important in a good ethics method. These criteria become the rows. The four methods taught are the columns. Go row by row and ask students to evaluate which method was most successful on that individual evaluation criterion. In the end, you will have 1) reminded them how much they learned, and 2) established which method was the favorite of the class.
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