The dilemma of hidden ethical dilemmas.

The current issue of Academic Psychiatry contains two articles on ethics education that complement each other in raising sobering and thought-provoking questions. Roberts et al. (1) surveyed the preferences and experiences of medical students and residents regarding ethics and professionalism education. The ideas and findings in the Roberts et al. article are too numerous to be fairly summarized here, but the essence is that medical students and trainees commonly experience ethical conflicts in their training, believe their training (in ethics or otherwise) is not quite up to meeting the challenges of the ethical conflicts encountered, tend to be optimistic about the value and the achievability of the goals of professionalism and ethics training, and prefer clinically oriented learning (and evaluation) approaches. In short, the portrait of these students and trainees is one of concerned adult learners who feel they need, want, and believe in the efficacy of more ethics education. A highly structured survey such as this, however, is not designed to explore deeply into the possible stories that underlie the largely—although not entirely, as we will see below—optimistic quantitative findings. In this regard, the article by Jinger Hoop (2) raises some less optimistic possibilities...

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