Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics


Further Exploration of the Relationship Between Medical Education and Moral Development

Donnie J. Selfa1, DeWitt C. Baldwin Jra2 and Fredric D. Wolinskya3

a1 A Professor in the Department of Humanities in Medicine, Philosophy, and Pediatrics, Texas A&M University College of Medicine, College Station, Texas.

a2 Scholar in Residence at the American Medical Association, Chicago, Illinois.

a3 A Professor in the Department of Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana.

In the wake of a pilot study that indicated that the experience of medical education appears to Inhibit moral development In medical students, increased attention needs to be given to the structure of medical education and the Influence it has on medical students. Interest in ethics and moral reasoning has become widespread in many aspects of professional and public life. Society has exhibited great interest in the ethical issues confronting physicians today. Considerable effort has been undertaken to train medical students, interns, and residents In how to reason through medical-ethical dilemmas. Media attention has focused on Issues such as abortion, euthanasia, care of severely handicapped infants, organ transplantation, and so forth, producing heated debates in both the professional and lay literature over the morality of the various positions. The curriculum of medical education has paralleled and reflected this general Interest in medical ethics. Most medical schools now offer, and frequently require, course work in ethics. However, further research Is needed to better characterize and understand the relationship of medical education to moral development.