Medical students' perspectives on the ethics of clinical reality

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INTRODUCTION: Medical ethicists have pointed out that a gap exists between classroom teaching of bioethical theory and the ethics of clinical reality. Studies recommend that the teaching of bioethics should focus on everyday dilemmas in the clinical setting instead of only dramatic dilemmas and have expressed the need for more studies of how medical students perceive ethical problems in the clinical setting. This study explored themes in and types of ethical dilemmas in medical students' reflective writing in their clinical rotations.

METHODS: The study was a qualitative explorative analysis of group reflection texts from fourth-year medical students at Aarhus University, Denmark.

RESULTS: The thematic analysis of 51 group reflection texts (n = 396) revealed four key themes in the material: 1) confidentiality issues, 2) treatment options and side effects, 3) the students' role and responsibility and 4) information-giving and communication. The majority of the ethical dilemmas that the students identified were everyday dilemmas. Dramatic dilemmas were represented to a limited degree.

CONCLUSIONS: Students' perspectives on ethical dilemmas in the clinical setting provide a unique opportunity to integrate a variety of ethical dimensions into bioethical education and draw attention to overlooked everyday ethical dilemmas. Thus, involving the students' perspectives may be a way to bridge the gap between bioethical theory and the ethics of clinical reality.

FUNDING: none.


TidsskriftDanish Medical Journal
Antal sider5
StatusUdgivet - apr. 2020

Bibliografisk note

Articles published in the DMJ are “open access”. This means that the articles are distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits any non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

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