HEC Forum

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 47–59 | Cite as

Learning by Doing. Training Health Care Professionals to Become Facilitator of Moral Case Deliberation

  • Margreet Stolper
  • Bert Molewijk
  • Guy Widdershoven


Moral case deliberation (MCD) is a dialogue among health care professionals about moral issues in practice. A trained facilitator moderates the dialogue, using a conversation method. Often, the facilitator is an ethicist. However, because of the growing interest in MCD and the need to connect MCD to practice, healthcare professionals should also become facilitators themselves. In order to transfer the facilitating expertise to health care professionals, a training program has been developed. This program enables professionals in health care institutions to acquire expertise in dealing with moral questions independent of the expertise of an (external) ethicist. Over the past 10 years, we developed a training program with a specific mix of theory and practice, aiming to foster the right attitude, skills and knowledge of the trainee. The content and the didactics of the training developed in line with the philosophy of MCD: pragmatic hermeneutics, dialogical ethics and Socratic epistemology. Central principles are: ‘learning by doing’, ‘reflection instead of ready made knowledge’, and ‘dialogue on dialogue’. This paper describes the theoretical background and the didactic content of the current training. Furthermore, we present didactic tools which we developed for stimulating active learning. We also go into lessons we learned in developing the training. Next, we provide some preliminary data from evaluation research of the training program by participants. The discussion highlights crucial aspects of educating professionals to become facilitators of MCD. The paper ends with concluding remarks and a plea for more evaluative evidence of the effectiveness and meaning of this training program for doing MCD in institutions.


Training program Moral case deliberation Experiential learning Clinical ethics 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margreet Stolper
    • 1
  • Bert Molewijk
    • 1
    • 2
  • Guy Widdershoven
    • 1
  1. 1.Medical Humanities, EMGO Institute of Health and Care ResearchVU University Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Center for Medical EthicsUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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