"Thinking ethics": a novel, pilot, proof-of-concept program of integrating ethics into the Physiology curriculum in South India

Authors : D S, Vaz M, Vaz M

Publication Year : 2017

Abstract :

Integrating medical ethics into the physiology teaching-learning program has been largely unexplored in India. The objective of this exercise was to introduce an interactive and integrated ethics program into the Physiology course of first-year medical students and to evaluate their perceptions. Sixty medical students (30 men, 30 women) underwent 11 sessions over a 7-mo period. Two of the Physiology faculty conducted these sessions (20-30 min each) during the routine physiology (theory/practicals) classes that were of shorter duration and could, therefore, accommodate the discussion of related ethical issues. This exercise was in addition to the separate ethics classes conducted by the Medical Ethics department. The sessions were open ended, student centered, and designed to stimulate critical thinking. The students' perceptions were obtained through a semistructured questionnaire and focused group discussions. The students found the program unique, thought provoking, fully integrated, and relevant. It seldom interfered with the physiology teaching. They felt that the program sensitized them about ethical issues and prepared them for their clinical years, to be "ethical doctors." Neutral observers who evaluated each session felt that the integrated program was relevant to the preclinical year and that the program was appropriate in its content, delivery, and student involvement. An ethics course taught in integration with Physiology curriculum was found to be beneficial, feasible, and compatible with Physiology by students as well as neutral observers.