Ethical reasoning and decision-making may be thought of as 'professional skills', and in this sense are as relevant to efficient clinical practice as the biomedical and clinical sciences are to the diagnosis of a patient's problem. Despite this, however, undergraduate medical programmes in ethics tend to focus on the teaching of bioethical theories, concepts and/or prominent ethical issues such as IVF and euthanasia, rather than the use of such ethics knowledge (theories, principles, concepts, rules) to clinical practice. Not surprisingly, many students and clinicians experience considerable difficulty in using what they know about ethics to help them make competent ethical decisions in their day-to-day clinical practice. This paper describes the development of a seminar programme for teaching senior medical students a more systematic approach to ethical reasoning and analysis and clinical decision-making.
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