• Introduction to Medical Ethics Online


    Welcome to this course on medical ethics.

    The course is designed to cover key constituent parts of medical ethics; it is suitable for any healthcare professional wanting to acquire a basic grounding in the subject. It is designed for self-directed learning, with opportunities for learners to test their knowledge and understanding at regular intervals, after working through the materials for each group of topics. The course avoids jargon, as far as possible, and it generally has a practical bias; while there is a theoretical underpinning to the course (and the faculty behind it has a wealth of experience), it is not ‘about’ theory.

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    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

    Rationale for the course: With advances in science and technology, the demands for and expectations of health care are changing rapidly. The need to provide good quality, safe and affordable care is putting increasing pressure on policymakers, professionals and the public, and this is now severely  testing the clinician patient relationship. While there are many reasons for this situation, one area relates to limited knowledge and understanding of issues of professionalism and ethics.This course is our modest effort to try and address this deficit.

    This course is just the start of our plans to promote more ethical practice in clinical medicine and restore clinical/patient trust and we hope to build on this to make it more relevant, with your help. We recognise that the course is mainly about doctors and highlights developments in the UK and India, and the learning hopefully will be relevant to both other clinical professionals and to other countries. In any case, we hope to create more specific resources and forums to do so over time. You might be interested to explore another of our Open Online Courses on Medical Professionalism on this site, and a report of a Workshop on promoting professionalism and ethics in India.

    Medical ethics is a distinct (applied) branch of philosophy; it has no single definition, and because of its practical nature, it tends to sit outside the primary fields of philosophical discourse and analysis; however, it is essentially about moral values and “questions concerning right and wrong conduct” (Encyclopaedia, Bioethics, 2014), as applied to any branch of medicine.

    The course has been developed by an international team, coordinated by Dr Roger Worthington.

    How to navigate the course

    It comprises 12 core topics, grouped together under 5 different headings. To access resources (which will download as pdf files of presentations), click on the blue 'hyperlinks'. There is a discussion forum in each section, and each section also has a self-assessment quiz  to check your understanding of some of the concepts in that section. Again click on the hyperlinks to take you to these items in each section.

    It is recommended that you tackle the headings in order; topics further down the list refer back to (rather than repeat) basic components covered under previous headings. Each sub-topic has the same format: 2 intended learning outcomes and a set of slides with open-access reading suggestions. A certificate of completion will be offered to learners who pass the quiz and give us feedback on the course in the last section.

  • Medical Ethics Online Home Page



    Introduction

    With advances in science and technology, the demands for and expectations of healthcare are changing rapidly. The need to provide good quality, safe and affordable care is putting increasing pressure on policymakers, professionals and the public, and this is now severely testing the clinician-patient relationship. While there are many reasons for this situation, one reason relates to the limited knowledge and understanding of issues of professionalism and ethics. This course is our modest effort to try and address this deficit.

    The course is designed to cover key constituent parts of medical ethics. It is suitable for any healthcare professional wanting to acquire a basic grounding in the subject. It is designed for self-directed learning, with opportunities for learners to test their knowledge and understanding at regular intervals, after working through the materials for each group of Modules. The course avoids jargon, as far as possible, and it generally has a practical bias with a theoretical underpinning.

    The course is designed to help you: 

    1. Promote more ethical practice in clinical medicine and restore clinical-patient trust.
    2. Highlight developments in the UK and India, and provide learning relevant to other clinical professionals and to other countries.


    The course has been developed by an international team, coordinated by Dr Roger Worthington, and has been adopted from Peoples-uni. It was further developed by NextGenU.org (NGU) and sponsored in part by the Annenberg Physician Training Program (APTP).

    There are five (5) modules to complete, which include:

    Module 1: Rights and Responsibilities
    Module 2: Ethico-Legal Frameworks
    Module 3: Beginning and End-of-Life
    Module 4: Governance
    Module 5: Healthcare

    Approximate time for completion of this course is 7 hours at an average reading rate of 144 words/minute.

    Engaging with this course

    • To register for this course, complete the registration form. Begin the course with Module 1. For each lesson, read the description. 
    • Each lesson comprises introductory remarks. You can click on the collections of resources in each module. 
    • There is a forum on each module for reflection, and you will be able to add a new topic or respond to a previous one. You may want to share your learning from this and other readings, comment on the topics from your own experience, comment on others' posts, or provide feedback on how we can improve the content and/or presentation.
    • There is a final quiz to assess your understanding of some important concepts. Click on the hyperlinks to take you to these items in each topic.


    Requirements to obtain the certificate 

    You may browse this course for free to learn for your personal enrichment. There are no requirements.

    To obtain a certificate, a learner must successfully complete:

    • All reading requirements
    • All quizzes, passing with 70%, having unlimited attempts
    • All discussion forums
    • The final exam with a minimum of 70% and a maximum of 3 attempts and
    • The self and course evaluation forms

  • Module 1: Rights and Responsibilities

    This Module contains two main themes:

    Duties and obligations of the clinician, including an introduction to patient right and

    Autonomy, consent, confidentiality and the role of family

    2 Files
  • Module 2: Ethico-Legal Frameworks

    This Module contains three main themes:

    • Ethical and legal frameworks
    • Mental health and questions around capacity and
    • Understanding risk and questions of disclosure

    3 Files, 1 Forum
  • Module 3: Beginning and End-of-Life

    This Module contains two main themes:

    Advance directives and the right to refuse care and

    Issues around the beginning and end of life, including DNR

    2 Files
  • Module 4: Governance

    This Module contains three main themes:

    Research governance and protocols for the protection of human subjects

    Negligence, misconduct and boundaries of responsibility and

    Probity and professionalism, including honesty and transparency


    3 Files
  • Module 5: Healthcare

    This Module contains two main themes:

    Healthcare organization and questions of justice and

    Essentials of public health and policy

    2 Files
  • Final Exam

  • Course and Self Evaluation & Certificate

    In this section, you can provide feedback about this course to help us make NextGenU.org better. Once evaluations are completed, you will be able to download your Certificate of Completion.
    Click here to give your feedback.
  • Quiz, Feedback and Certificate

    Not available

    Take the quiz and then, give us some feedback about the course and what it has meant for you.

    You can earn a certificate if you have passed the quiz and given us some feedback (below).