Embedding Ethics Education in Clinical Clerkships by Identifying Clinical Ethics Competencies: The Vanderbilt Experience.
The clinical clerkships in medical school are the first formal opportunity for trainees to apply bioethics concepts to clinical encounters. These clerkships are also typically trainees' first sustained exposure to the "reality" of working in clinical teams and the full force of the challenges and ethical tensions of clinical care. We have developed a specialized, embedded ethics curriculum for Vanderbilt University medical students during their second (clerkship) year to address the unique experience of trainees' first exposure to clinical care. Our embedded curriculum is centered around core "ethics competencies" specific to the clerkship: for Medicine, advanced planning and end-of-life discussions; for Surgery, informed consent; for Pediatrics, the patient-family-provider triad; for Obstetrics and Gynecology, women's autonomy, unborn child's interests, and partner's rights; and for Neurology/Psychiatry, decision-making capacity. In this paper, we present the rationale for these competencies, how we integrated them into the clerkships, and how we assessed these competencies. We also review the additional ethical issues that have been identified by rotating students in each clerkship and discuss our strategies for continued evolution of our ethics curriculum.
Langerman, A; Cutrer, WB; Yakes, EA; Meador, KG
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