The Medical Ethics Curriculum in Medical Schools: Present and Future
Alberto Giubilini, Sharyn Milnes, and Julian Savulescu
In this review article we describe the current scope, methods, and contents of medical ethics education in medical schools in Western English speaking countries (mainly the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia). We assess the strengths and weaknesses of current medical ethics curricula, and students’ levels of satisfaction with different teaching approaches and their reported difficulties in learning medical ethics concepts and applying them in clinical practice. We identify three main challenges for medical ethics education: counteracting the bad effects of the “hidden curriculum,” teaching students how to apply ethical knowledge and critical thinking to real cases in clinical practice, and shaping future doctors’ right character through ethics education. We suggest ways in which these challenges could be addressed. On the basis of this analysis, we propose practical guidelines for designing, implementing, teaching, and assessing a medical ethics program within a four-year medical course.
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