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Medical ethics on film: towards a reconstruction of the teaching of healthcare professionals
  1. Angelo Volandes
  1. Angelo E Volandes, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital, General Medicine Unit, 50 Staniford Street, 9th floor, Boston, MA 02114, USA; avolandes{at}


The clinical vignette remains the standard means by which medical ethics are taught to students in the healthcare professions. Although written or verbal vignettes are useful as a pedagogic tool for teaching ethics and introducing students to real cases, they are limited, since students must imagine the clinical scenario. Medical ethics are almost universally taught during the early years of training, when students are unfamiliar with the clinical reality in which ethics issues arise. Film vignettes fill in that imaginative leap. By providing vivid details with images, film vignettes offer rich and textured details of cases, including the patient’s perspective and the clinical reality. Film vignettes provide a detailed ethnography that allows for a more complete discussion of the ethical issues. Film can serve as an additional tool for teaching medical ethics to members of the healthcare professions.

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  • Competing interests: None declared.

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