Bringing Ethics Education to the Clinical Years

The “Ward Ethics” program is described in the current article. Ward Ethics was comprised of sessions for third year medical students in their clinical rotations. Discussion of ethical situations was encouraged within the 24 sessions of the program and involved faculty facilitators. Data was gathered from written evaluations of the program by 102 students and 22 faculty members between 1999 and 2001. Fifteen faculty members were also interviewed.

Key Findings:

  • The vast majority of students endorsed the value, utility and success of the Ward Ethics sessions (94%), and appreciated that faculty were part of the program (96%).
  • Almost all of the students (98%) described the sessions as the best format for discussion with peers about difficult experiences. Most students (83%) reported that the Ward Ethics program provided help in management of challenges they encountered.
  • Ward Ethics sessions facilitated student awareness of ethical issues, development of responses to situations, recognition of what represents responsible conduct and identification of skills to use in taking ethical action.
  • Nearly all faculty (91%) described the sessions as “very” or “somewhat” successful at achieving program objectives. Faculty reported personal and professional benefits as motivation for being involved in Ward Ethics.