Blog do Curso de Medicina da Universidade Estadual de Maringá para a discussão de temas de Educação Médica, Educação das Profissões da Saúde e áreas correlatas.
Blog of University of Maringá Medical School for the discussion of issues of Medical Education, Health Professions Education and related areas.
How should government balance privacy rights with national
Should companies value their shareholders over the environment?
How quickly should a software company fix a known bug?
Regardless of discipline,
faculty are faced with ethical issues in our classes around a variety of
sensitive topics, and students will question the ethics of certain
practices or topics in our field. As trained academics, we are not always
comfortable having discussions where there is no clear right or wrong
answer or talking about ethical areas in which we do not feel we are
experts. So, how do you respond to students who really want to know “the
answer” to these types of questions?
Many disciplines respond by
requiring ethics courses in the major. While these courses are valuable,
the issues covered often do not transfer when students are faced with
real issues in the real world. Talking about the ethics of stem cells and
being in a lab that uses stem cells are two entirely different contexts.
The current “wanted and watched” generation has a learned reliance on
adult authority and direction to help them solve their problems.
While we can debate the role of
ethics in our classes and discuss whether it’s even our responsibility to
teach ethics, the reality is we are asked to do that every semester. We
would better serve our students to engage in these challenging
discussions during the “teachable” moment than ignore them.
ne way to help students
wrestle with these ethical dilemmas, without declaring what we would do,
is to teach them ethical inquiry when you come across a discipline issue
that raises ethical questions. If our goal is to help students respond in
a compassionate, sensitive way to important issues, we need to show them
how to think through questions where there are no clear-cut answers.
There are many forms of ethical inquiry we can use to guide students, but
they all have common components.
– The first step is being aware of what is an ethical issue. Knowing
that you shouldn’t cheat on a test is easy, but deciding whether to
turn in a classmate is not easy. Ethical issues are the ones that
make us stay up at night. Helping students clearly articulate the
ethical issues in your discipline is important. During a discussion
in my education class on whether or not teachers should strike, the
class realized that the ethical issue was fairness and equity, both
for the teachers and their students. This framed the discussion that
the Stakeholders – An important and often-overlooked step to an
ethics discussion is having students map out who will be affected by
their decision. Again, in our discussion on teacher strikes, the
students ended up creating an elaborate stakeholder map that
illustrated how the issue went beyond just the students and teachers
to also affect the administration, community, and families of
everyone involved. It was quite an eye-opening exercise for them!
– Students are often unaware that many professions have their own
are codes of conduct. They are so busy learning the content that
thinking about the ethical issues of the discipline is just not on
their minds. Encourage students to investigate the ethical standards
and guidelines that may govern their future profession, and then use
those resources to help inform their decision-making process.
Multiple Solutions – Students tend to think there is just one right
answer to an ethical dilemma, but there is usually more than one
solution. Students started calling this the third option. They would
ask each other “what’s your third option” in each case that arose.
– Perhaps the most important part of ethical inquiry is reflection.
Reflection on their own value system and understanding where it came
from, reflection on the process of ethical inquiry, and reflection
on identifying their biases and uncovering and/or validating their
the Course of Action – Having students review the pros and cons of
each of the possible solutions and then choose the one that most closely
matches their belief system can help them learn to make choices that
are right for them rather than spend their efforts trying to figure
out what they think the teacher wants. In our teacher strike
scenario, some students chose to strike and others did not, but ALL
were comfortable with their choice and understood why they made it
and the consequences of taking the action they chose.
Giving students the gift of
ethical inquiry allows us to do the work we signed up for—helping
students grow, mature, and use critical thinking and evidence to make
decisions and function in the world.
Cohen, P.S., M. McDaniels & D.M. Qualters (2005). Air Model: A Tool for
Cultivating Reflective Ethical Inquiry, College Teaching (53) 3. 120-127.