Medical Ethics Class and Course Descriptions

Through medical ethics courses, students examine the ethical and social issues surrounding the practice of medicine, in particular the relationship between patient and physician. These courses are normally taken as part of a full degree program related to healthcare.

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Essential Information

Medical ethics classes are available through several undergraduate and graduate degree programs in fields such as healthcare administration, bioethics, medical assisting, nursing and medicine. Many of these programs have an overview course on medical ethics, while bioethics and medicine programs include advanced courses. Some programs related to healthcare even offer a medical ethics concentration to study the topic in depth.

Some common classes found in undergraduate programs include those in beginning and intermediate medical ethics and biomedical ethics. The beginning and intermediate courses introduce students to common issues that arise when working with patients, including those in the areas of patient privacy, generic control, the refusal of care and end-of-life issues. Students studying bioethics learn about the new ethical issues that medical advancements have sparked in the healthcare industry.

Common courses found in graduate programs include those in clinical ethics and the social and ethics issues in medicine. These courses are geared toward individuals who work directly with patients, and the clinical course usually involves direct interaction with patients through a work experience. Some of the ethical issues addressed in such courses may include confidentiality, organ donation and informed consent.

List of Medical Ethics Classes

Students completing a degree program that incorporates medical ethics courses may take some of the courses described below.

Beginning Medical Ethics Course

This medical ethics course is typically offered in undergraduate programs in pre-medicine. In it, students examine common ethical issues they could face as doctors, such as the relationship between doctors and their patients. They discuss the importance of privacy with regards to a patient's medical condition.

Intermediate Course

This medical ethics class is a continuation of the introductory course. In it, students examine the ethics and morality behind patient care in a wide variety of issues, including euthanasia and genetic control. The course covers issues such as whether or not parents have a right to refuse care for their children with certain medical disorders. They also begin to discuss issues pertaining to patient confidentiality.

Bio-Medical Ethics Course

In this undergraduate-level course in medicine, students examine social and ethical issues that have arisen because of medical advancements. For instance, the course covers abortion and reproductive technologies. Students examine the role each of the issues plays in medicine and society, the physician's ethical responsibility and ways to assess the impact of performing different medical procedures.

Social and Ethical Issues in Medicine Course

This doctoral-level course examines, in detail, the moral, social and ethical issues physicians face. In this course, students examine the ethical responsibilities of a medical professional and debate ethical issues. Students also discuss the physician and patient relationship in detail, covering dignity, confidentiality and care.

Clinical Ethics Course

Graduate-level medical students taking this course gain experience providing patient care to individuals in a number of fields, including neurology, obstetrics and gynecology. They work with patients and complete case analyses, which they discuss with their classmates. Through this course, students gain perspective on the different fields of medicine and the ethical challenges each presents.

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    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
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      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
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    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical Ethics and Bioethics
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Public Health and Safety

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