Making Sense of Ethics and Law in the Medical Curriculum
Dowie, A L
Medical teacher 2011; 33(5): 384-7
The moment a patient comes into the treatment room, the medical professional is placed in both an ethical and a legal context. The task for medical teachers is to equip students for this clinical reality in a way that makes sense both to the learners and to the variety of medical educators in the school, all of whom will have their own interpretations of the nature of this subject area. Ethics and law in the medical curriculum (Dowie and Martin 2011), aims to provide an understanding of how ethics and law can be incorporated into the curriculum in a structured, coherent, and logical manner. It is essential that we begin with a vision of the primary purpose of our course, and clarify the overall domain of learning to which it relates. Rather than presenting students with a miscellany of ethico-legal topics, their learning can be reinforced by constructing a frame around the key emphases in law and ethics. A professional ethics frame is proposed, highlighting the everyday, theory-based, habits, intentions, consequences and society elements of this approach. The course also has to be mediated within the wider curriculum, and this benefits from a coherent and communicated course scheme that is directly meaningful within the educational setting of the medical school. Finally, within the Guide, examples of humanistic schemes are presented that centre on aspects of boundary in patient care, themed around body, person and community of practice.
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