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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 38-39
Teaching ethics

Reader, Department of Oral Pathology, Meenakshi Ammal Dental College, Alappakam, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

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Date of Web Publication17-Oct-2014

How to cite this article:
Preethi M. Teaching ethics . J Educ Ethics Dent 2014;4:38-9

How to cite this URL:
Preethi M. Teaching ethics . J Educ Ethics Dent [serial online] 2014 [cited 2020 Jun 5];4:38-9. Available from: http://www.jeed.in/text.asp?2014/4/1/38/143184

Ethical values has to be imbibed from childhood. As medical or dental profession is concerned, there is no standard curriculum for ethics in the Indian syllabus, but learning during the course of study and gaining experience through patient interaction is the only way. When there are a moral science and scriptures as subjects in the school level education, why not the ethics be taught as a part of dental course, which is being followed in other countries. This would help students to meet ethical dilemmas and take right decisions during the study period as well after they are qualified.

   Teaching Ethics in Dental Schools: Trends, Techniques and Targets Top

Nancy W. Berk, Ph.D.

Journal of dental education, August 1, 2001;65:744-50.

The author has thoroughly provided an overview of trends in ethics teaching in dental schools and the current teaching approaches, and also the dilemmas associated with teaching efficacy in this domain. The author has put forth a couple of questions like, "what if your best friend asks you to write a prescription of an antibiotic for an ear infection? How is it accepted if a dental student has to complete an additional root canal before the deadline but cannot find an appropriate patient."

The seriousness of ethical violations in the classrooms should be conveyed to gain the confidence that our graduates will demonstrate integrity in the practice of dentistry. The various trends curriculum emphasis, hours and placement are detailed. Trends suggest that dental education should commonly include separate ethics coursework for students; after various reviews revealed one such was not followed, but often only merged with practice management, jurisprudence or dental history.

The author has suggested workshops, small groups and problem based learning as tools for teaching ethics. Also, teaching materials which are as such less in case of dental ethics can be overcome by narrative approach like, stories which may create the optimal setting for student reflection. The author has quoted various interdisciplinary ethics course offered to students by health science schools and has encouraged them as it would provide student dentists with valuable insight into ethical decision making as well as an important exposure to the multidisciplinary team process.

Since there is no agreed upon assessment tool to measure efficacy of ethical training in dental schools, it is relied upon the educators to provide the groundwork for ethical decision making. Some techniques utilized to assess ethical behaviors include use of blinded videotapes reviews of patient-resident interactions and videos of student's role playing patient dentist scenarios.

   The Status of Ethics Teaching and Learning in US Dental Schools Top

Marilyn S. Lantz, D.M.D., Ph.D., M.S.D.; Muriel J. Bebeau, Ph.D.; Pamela Zarkowski, J.D., M.P.H.

J Dent Educ 2011;75:1295-309.

The authors have done an eight section survey to collect about the status of ethics instruction in US dental schools. All 56 dental schools operating in the United States had responded.

The respondents included Deans of few schools, faculty members who taught ethics and both in case of few other schools. The results support earlier findings that little curriculum time is devoted to ethics instruction in US dental schools. Only 80% of the 56 schools provide a stand alone ethics course at some time in the curriculum. The average number of clock hours devoted to such courses was 26.5, which would amount to about two credit courses. Though it showed a slight increase over the past decade, it also indicates that instruction in ethics still represent a very small proportion of dental schools formal curriculum.

In order for ethics to show up in the clinical years of the curriculum, in regular day to day discussions of ethical issues and dilemmas that arise in the clinical setting the concerted efforts of the curriculum planners, ongoing assessments of professionalism, and ongoing performance based assessments of ethical competence will be required.

In addition, planned faculty development programs will be required. The authors take credit to first document the prevalence of these measures across schools. Based on the survey outcome, the authors offer some suggestions for an agenda for future research. Dental schools should access learning outcome of ethics instruction. Such studies could help to identify the need for additional outcome assessment measures. Dental schools collaboration develops best practices for faculty members as mentors to student's ethical development. Studies are needed to identify factors that support and enhance the ethical climate of dental schools

   Why our Ethics Curricula don't Work Top

Charles Bertolami., D.D.S., D.Med.Sc

Journal of dental education, April 2004;68:414-25,

The author explains that ethics courses are given to students as part of curriculum and tests are being passed by the students, but behavior changes do not occur inspite of such course. Though the author accepts proving this with scientific certainty is impossible and this can be realized among anyone who deals with the dental students.

He strongly says teaching about ethics is different from teaching ethics, in the sense of expecting change in behavior as a result of what is taught. He premises that the ethics courses are inadequate in content and form to the extent that they do not cultivate an introspective orientation to professional life. The weakness pointed out where, failure in recognizing that more education is not the answer to everything and an inadequate quality in the course content. The fundamental error of an unethical practitioner is that they misconstrue where their own true interests lie. There is a pre-curriculum entailed during early educational experience to the dental students to overcome this disconnect between knowledge and action.

   Why Our Ethics Curricula do Work Top

Larry E. Jenson, D.D.S., M.A

Journal of dental education, Feb 2005;69:225-8.

The author is an ethics instructor and has challenged and replied to the previous article. It is explained that in ethical courses, cheating is not of primary concern but issues like keeping patient information confidential, fully informing patients of treatment risks and benefits, objectively criticizing the work of other dentists, declining to provide treatment when certain type of treatments are not warranted and respecting the autonomous choice of patients.

The author admits that ethical courses are not given to change the behavior of students but even a slight dip in the cheating incidents can give happiness. It is generally accepted that engagement of students in discussion of ethical dilemmas is a more interesting and an effective way to teach. Discussions are led in a small manner and students take an opportunity to see how experienced ethicists reason through problems. Knowing ethics and being ethical are different from each other which are routinely emphasized to students.

According to the author, when dental ethics are taught, the teachers are under no illusion to make a saint out of a devil, but it is also unrealistic to expect good behavior from students who are ignorant of the basic ethical obligation of their chosen profession.

   Teaching and Assessing Medical Ethics: Where are We Now? Top

K Mattick, J Bligh

J Med Ethics 2006;32:181-5.

The objective of the authors is to characterize UK undergraduate medical ethics curricula and to identify opportunities and threats to teaching and learning.

The method included a copy of postal questionnaire sent to leads in teaching and learning at each of 28 medical schools in UK. They were requested to complete it together with other relevant members of staff so that it represents a response from the school. The questionnaire enquired about teaching and assessment, including future perspectives. The results were varied. Majority of schools deemed their aims for ethics teaching to be successful, except a few. The existing aims were satisfactory for most of the schools.

There were findings that the ethics topics recommended in the UK consensus statement were covered sub-optimally. This study identifies integration as strength and an area that needs attention. The tensions between the need for experiential learning and achieving what is required by the core curriculum have been described. Multidisciplinary curriculum meetings are required to ensure coordination. Small group teaching is best for classroom-based learning. Staff development was another concern in this survey and it is important for new people to get involved in teaching ethics.

Correspondence Address:
M Preethi
Reader, Department of Oral Pathology, Meenakshi Ammal Dental College, Alappakam, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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