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Ethics in Education

Ethical decision-making at the core of medicine

Ethical issues are fundamental in healthcare: the practice of medicine has an enormous impact on people, at birth, at death, and at many intimate, important, and often vulnerable moments in between. The potential to do good—and to do harm—is ever-present.

Importance of justice and equality

Beyond that, good health is fundamental to people’s abilities to work, to take part in family life, to enjoy their leisure. Inequalities in health and health care access quickly translate to socioeconomic inequalities, while socioeconomic factors in turn determine health. A concern with justice is at the core of the practice of medicine.

Ethical decision-making

Ethical decision-making is as much at the core of medicine as diagnostic reasoning, and is intrinsic to prevention and management. Health care professionals need to be able to discuss and come to a common understanding, with one another and with patients, understanding issues in practical, scientific and ethical terms, and to be effective participants in the social conversation about health and health care.

Lifelong learning

Ethical practice involves lifelong learning. The Department of Bioethics collaborates in developing innovative and effective approaches to ethics education from the first days of undergraduate medical education through to postgraduate training and on to professional practice, working collaboratively within the framework of CanMEDS.

Dr. Lynette Reid, as the department’s Education Coordinator, has taken the lead on research related to ethics education.

Selected publications

Lynette Reid, Anna MacLeod, David Byers, Dianne Delva, Tim Fedak, Karen Mann, Tom Marrie, Brenda Merritt, Christy Simpson. 2012. “Deliberative curriculum inquiry for integration in an MD curriculum: Dalhousie University’s curriculum renewal process.Medical Teacher 34:e785-793.