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Ethics exists both in informal (what doctors should learn) and formal (what educational and professional bodies state that doctors should learn) postgraduate medical curricula. This existence has served as justification for educational and academic activity rather than any robust evidence of patient benefit. Ethics in biomedicine is huge field characterised by contextual and disciplinary diversity, and literature on the rationale content and modes of teaching and learning ethics in medicine has largely coalesced around the education of medical students in the supervised, lower stakes setting of university education. Dr Papanikitas will explore a notional field of postgraduate medical ethics education, seeking to better understand its content, meanings and key stakeholders in academia, education and practice, and consider what is PGMEE in order to look for it in professional and academic literature.  A draft description for discussion and refinement (in relation to doctors in the UK) is as follows:

  • Teaching and learning ethics (Ethics education) in/for healthcare practice but distinct from undergraduate settings in healthcare professions in that learners have passed a certain threshold for accountability.
  • Learners’ ordinary professional/service commitments have priority over their identification as learners.
  • Ethics education with the purpose of fostering good practice and professional flourishing in contemporary healthcare
  • UK postgraduate medical education as falling into 3 phases in UK medicine: 1) The foundation years, 2) Core and Specialist Training 3) Post-completion continuing professional development
  • Ethical CPD/CME components such as knowledge and skills in research ethics may exist alongside a professional life course

Dr Papanikitas will suggest that the field of PGMEE is easier to explore than to boundary. Relevant evidence may come from specialist medical journals, education journals or bioethics, journals, or lurk, unpublished in grey literature. The field may not be stable as it is undermined by disputes about what is ethics, who should teach and learn ethics as well as if when how and why ethics should be taught to doctors and whether such a field should limit itself to doctors.

Suggested pre-reading: