Medical Ethics Courses

M1 and M2 Medical Ethics Course


In the M-1 and M-2 course sequence, “Ethical & Social Issues in Medicine,” students will:

Review central moral, philosophical, and social problems in medicine and health policy;

  • Reflect on the physician’s responsibilities in helping to develop and implement social policies regarding health care delivery;
  • Develop critical skills for evaluating and articulating moral and philosophical claims, arguments, and goals frequently found in practice and medical literature;
  • Formulate, present, and defend a particular position on a moral or policy issue in health care and to be able to communicate these ideas and conclusions effectively, both orally and in writing, to patients, patients’ families, colleagues and other decision makers in society, and
  • Reflect on the relationships among moral, professional, and legal obligations of physicians, including those involving honesty, and respect for patient well-being, autonomy, dignity and confidentiality.

(Drawn from: Medical School Objectives Project. Learning Objectives for Medical Student Education: Guidelines for Medical Schools. Washington, DC: American Association of Medical Colleges, 1998.)

M4 Ethics Selectives

Electives in Bioethics & Interdisciplinary Studies

Electives in Humanities and Medicine – MH 402

This course offers students an opportunity to explore a particular topic of interest to them, such as health policy, philosophy of science, medical epistemology, patients’ rights, regulation of scarce resources, pending legislation affecting medicine, history, death and dying, ethics, or literature. The student selects a topic and determines the appropriate methodology for study. Students may take the entire elective with a member of the Bioethics & Interdisciplinary Studies faculty of they may combine medical training with a pertinent topic in the humanities.

Intro to Health Care Delivery & Policy in the US – MH 410

Introduces students to health care delivery in the U.S. focusing on the components and workings of the multiple systems that define, describe and shape the provisions of health services. The course will explore the major components of the system and their interaction with and impact on the professional life of the working physician. The student will gain a broad understanding of the complex challenge of “systems-based” practice and how policy makers, physicians and other providers and patients must balance individual and societal choice, cost, quality and access in medical care.

History of Medicine – MH 403

Todd Savitt, PhD
Provides students with a historical perspective of the development of medical ideas and practice so that they can better appreciate the origins of modern medicine. Students will learn about the development of medical ideas and how to find books and articles on medical historical topics.

Issues at the End of Life – MH 421

Annette Greer, PhD, MSN, RN
Examines conceptual and moral issues relating to dying, death, and end-of-life care. This course will reflect on the concept of death and on medical criteria for determining death; consider physicians’ and patients’ attitudes toward death and dying and their implications for end-of-life care; and analyze specific moral issues in end-of-life care, including advance care planning, palliative care, assistance-in-dying and patient rights to refuse or demand life prolonging treatment.

Intro to Law and Medicine – MH 409

Provides a basic understanding of the theory and workings of the American legal system and introduces students to the legal concepts relating to various aspects of health care. This is not a course in risk management. It is designed instead to help physicians communicate effectively with policy makers and attorneys. Medical liability law will be covered in depth. The course may also include topics such as the law relating to: the care of children, end-stage life decision making, maternal-fetal issues, hospitals, managed care organizations, and professional licensure, credentials and peer review. One session may survey the laws related to health care in NC.

Leadership of Teams and Medical Practice – MH 426

Maria Clay, PhD
Provides an opportunity for students engaged in the leadership curriculum to pursue leadership theories and skills not covered elsewhere in their curriculum. More importantly, it allows medical students not enrolled in the Leadership Program to explore leadership and assess their own leadership skills. This M4 Selective will provide a theoretical overview of select leadership theories and styles and help apply these to health care teams and practice settings. Students will have opportunities to self determine their own leadership styles, to assess their skill levels, and to reflect on how to improve their leadership capabilities.

Literature and Medicine – MH 404

Todd Savitt, PhD
Literature stimulates the imagination. By reading about people experiencing illness and those who take professional care of them, medical students may enhance their appreciation of the work of the physician. Reading and discussing literature concerning illness experiences and doctoring provide unique ways to understand the nuances of practicing medicine.

Philosophy and Medicine – MH 418

Janet Malek, PhD and Clint Parker, PhD, MD
This course survey a number of different philosophical questions related to medicine and discuss a variety of possible responses to these questions and consider how these answers could impact the practice of medicine. Students will gain awareness and understanding of some of the philosophical problems related to the practice of medicine and may gain an improved ability to think through issues relevant to their work.

Intro to Social Medicine – MH 427

Daniel Goldberg, JD, PhD
This course introduces students to the concept of social medicine, with a focus on translating a theoretical understanding of the history and content of the movement into an understanding of the movement’s practical implications for medical practice and health policy in general.

Spirituality & Medicine – MH 425

Annette Greer, PhD, MSN, RN
Enhances the ability of medical students/future physicians to appropriately address spiritual issues arising within patient care. Some of the goals for this course include: understanding that spiritual belief systems may have both positive and/or negative impacts on healing and health; appreciating the variety of belief systems as a part of cultural diversity, and how cultural differences may present in the health care setting; and understanding that caregivers’ attitudes towards patients’ diverse spiritual and religious orientations have positive or negative impacts on provider-patient relationships and the healing process.