Medical ethics in medical classrooms: from theory to practice
Taking medical ethics into medical classrooms, be they undergraduate lecture theatres, hospital wards or clinic rooms in primary care, brings a range of challenges. Few students or doctors will have chosen medicine primarily because of an interest in medical ethics and there will be a small minority who consider medical ethics teaching an unnecessary waste of time. In Europe and the United States (US) medical ethics teaching in medical schools has received increasing attention over the past four decades (Goldie, 2000; Eckles et al., 2005). Since 1993, medical ethics has been a required part of the undergraduate medical curriculum (GMC, 1993) in UK medical schools and, in 1999, the World Medical Association (WMA) recommended that all medical schools should teach medical ethics (WMA, 1999). However, medical ethics remains a relatively small discipline within medical schools and teaching is often delivered by lone academics without a natural home in either a clinical or academic department (Mattick and Bligh, 2006). Reviews of medical ethics teaching in Europe and the US have identified common challenges around resources for teaching and the method and aims of medical ethics teaching (Goldie, 2000; Claudot et al., 2007).