How & When Physicians Learn about Medical Ethics?

How & When Physicians Learn about Medical Ethics?

January 2019

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Before they even begin to practice medicine or face serious ethical dilemmas, today’s medical students are required to study ethics. They attend lectures and seminars, discuss ethical dilemmas, and engage in exercises—all designed to prepare them for the challenges ahead. Despite this ethics education, several PBI graduates express in their post-course evaluations how they, “Wish they had learned this in medical school.”

When those efforts fail and practitioners behave unethically, state medical boards often turn to a very different kind of education. Those given a second chance attend remedial courses meant to salvage their careers.

It’s a complex, rapidly evolving landscape, and things are unlikely to settle down any time soon. But that only makes it more important to stop periodically and take stock, which is what we try to do in this issue. In the following articles, we consider the current state of medical ethics education, take a look at the exam medical boards often use to assess physician’s ethical competence, and detail the PBI approach to remedial ethics education.