, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 3-12
Date: 28 Jun 2012

Deliberation at the hub of medical education: beyond virtue ethics and codes of practice

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Abstract

Although both codes of practice and virtue ethics are integral to the ethos and history of “medical professionalism”, the two trends appear mutually incompatible. Hence, in the first part of the paper we explore and explicate this apparent conflict and seek a direction for medical education. The theoretical and empirical literature indicates that moral deliberation may transcend the incompatibilities between the formal and the virtuous, may enhance moral and other aspects of personal sensitivity, may help design and improve other parts of the curricula, and may foster self-awareness and clarification of the professional role. Not only are these goals essential for good and conscientious doctoring, but they may also reduce physicians’ “burn-out”. We argue that medical education should focus on the ubiquitous practice of deliberation in contemporary medicine, and especially the practice of moral deliberation.