, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 85-93

Medical Ethics Education: A Survey of Opinion of Medical Students in a Nigerian University

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Abstract

In Nigeria, medical education remains focused on the traditional clinical and basic medical science components, leaving students to develop moral attitudes passively through observation and intuition. In order to ascertain the adequacy of this method of moral formations, we studied the opinions of medical students in a Nigerian university towards medical ethics training. Self administered semi-structured questionnaires were completed by final year medical students of the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. There were 82 (64.1%) male and 44 (34.4%) female respondents. The median age was 26 years. Most students (80.5%) responded that they did not receive enough training in medical ethics. The ethics instructions they received did not sufficiently prepare them for the ethical challenges they came across as medical students. Though inadequate, the few hours of lecture and discussion on human values and professional etiquette which they received positively influenced their moral reasoning. They identified end-of-life issues, dealing with financial issues and handling socio-cultural beliefs of patients and relations as some challenges that medical doctors are ill-prepared for by their current training. Most, 85.9% believed that formal medical ethics education would be worthwhile as it would enhance the making of complete and better doctors. They recommended incorporating bioethics as a course in the medical school curriculum. Nigerian medical students encounter ethical challenges for which they have not been adequately trained to resolve. They recommended formal medical ethics training in their curriculum and a uniform bioethics programme in the country.