Discussion Guidelines


Ethics discussions are intended to explore assumptions and reasoning behind positions. Reasonable people can disagree, and have justified reasons for doing so, about the best course of action. Hence, we focus on exploring and understanding positions and thinking about alternatives rather than on the “right” answer. While there can be wrong answers, there may also be more than one ethically permissible pathway forward.

Faculty help set the tone for the discussion: In ethics, we often talk about issues that are controversial. We want to create a space where students can be candid because we genuinely WANT to hear different perspectives/reasons.  To improve ethical reasoning (our goal), students need to practice making ethical arguments without focusing too heavily on coming to the ‘right’ conclusion.  Often more than one position/course of action is ethically appropriate.  Sometimes one position is ethically and clinically most persuasive however it is through trial and error that they will come to this. Let them make any argument, but encourage them to justify their positions with evidence and sound reasoning.  Once a best approach is identified, students will grapple with the practical issue of how to handle that obligation if they or their patients believe differently.  Facilitators will help them find respectful ways to do that.

We expect students to have different opinions.  That is OK and you should feel free to share honest opinions with each other. We want to explore the reasons we disagree (or agree) in a way that demonstrates curiosity and respect for each other. We also want you to explore your special responsibilities as physicians.