chapter  2
6 Pages

Medical ethics, then and now: a 40-year perspective


I got into medical ethics by accident. Back in 1964, when I returned to Scotland from postgraduate study in the States to take up a job as Assistant Chaplain to Edinburgh University, I was asked if I would also take on a part time job at the Royal College of Nursing. It was to teach a course on ethics to senior nurses who were studying for a qualification to enable them to become nurse managers. (It was known flippantly as ‘morals for matrons’, though this was inaccurate as many members of the class were male nurses!) Whoever designed that course (I never found out who it was) was clearly sadistic. These unfortunate nurses were required to study the theories of Kant, Bentham, Mill and Spinoza! What is more they had to pass a written exam at the end of the course. I don’t know who were/was more terrified – they or I.