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Friday, September 16, 2005

Course Introduction

Course Introduction

Welcome to the 4th Year Medical Student Course in Medical Ethics at the University of Utah School of Medicine. We hope you will find this course to be a challenging and valuable component of your medical school education. The timing and content of this course are based on two assumptions. First, that 4th year medical students have had sufficient exposure to clinical medicine to appreciate the relevance and importance of ethical issues in medicine. Second, that medical ethics presents issues of sufficient importance that all medical students must have a solid foundation in these issues and concepts before they begin their post-graduate training. We trust that you will build on your knowledge and skills in medical ethics throughout the course of your career. With these assumptions in mind, the course has the following objectives.

Course Objectives

Explore the complexities of ethical issues in the practice of medicine.
Provide a foundation of philosophical and moral reasoning skills.
Encourage reflection on personal and professional moral commitments in the practice of medicine and promote discussion between professionals.
Employ this knowledge and these skills in a clinical setting.
The course has been organized to provide you with the practical skills embodied in these objectives. Please keep these objectives in mind as you participate in the course. You are currently fulfilling a commitment to master the technical skills of medicine in your chosen area of interest. We believe that the skills embodied in the Course Objectives will serve you and your patients well as you integrate them into your practice of modern medicine.


I. Course Requirements

Required Reading: There are required reading assignments for each day. The readings will prepare you for both the large class activities and for participation in the discussion in the small groups. The full-text of the required readings is available on the course WebCt, using the Eccles E-Reserve link (
Supplemental Reading: Some days also have supplemental readings. These are optional and are offered for students who want to learn more about a particular topic and of course will enrich the daily discussions.
Writing Assignments: There are two writing assignments that are required during the course. One paper is required to be completed by the end of the course and the other will be used in one of your small group discussions. At least four double spaced pages are appropriate for the final paper. Please type both papers.
Final Paper (choose one option)

Option 1: Critically review one article on an ethics issue that has been published since 1998 in a journal to which you subscribe.

Summarize the author’s ethical arguments
Discuss where you believe the author’s arguments are the strongest and weakest
Refer to other arguments on the issue from the literature
Due by Monday, April 11
Option 2: Present and analyze an ethical issue in your future field of practice.

Articulate the ethical issue
From a neutral, balanced perspective, present the different views on the issue
Refer to the literature on the issue with a minimum of three references
Due by Monday, April 11
Mistakes Paper

On one page, prepare a description of an important mistake you’ve made or observed during medical school. If you’re aware of a medical mistake that you or a family member experienced as a patient, that is also acceptable. Explain what happened or didn’t happen, why you think it happened, what the consequences were, what was disclosed and to whom, what was learned and what was changed. Do not use names in your paper or sign it. Some of the papers will be used for discussion purposes in the small group session on Wednesday, March 30.

Participation: Knowledge and skills in medical ethics are best learned through active dialogue. The large class sessions and the small group discussions are designed to foster your participation. Please come to class prepared to participate. Attendance will be taken at the small group sessions.
Attendance: This is a required course. Students who miss any class sessions without completing a remedial assignment will be given an incomplete for the course. A course day will be considered missed if the student does not attend both the lecture and small group activities.
Unless a personal emergency arises, all missed class days must be approved in advance by Dr. Jeff Botkin, Course Director, at 581-7170.
Students who are unable to attend a class day are required to prepare a 3 – 5 page essay in response to a question in the syllabus for each of the days missed. The essays should reflect the student’s reading of the required material. The essays will be graded on a pass/fail basis. A failing grade on the essay will result in a failure for the course. The essay will be due by 5 pm on April 11 unless other arrangements have been made with Dr. Botkin.
In addition, all students must complete the Final Paper described above. The essays will be graded on a pass/fail basis. A failing grade on the essay will result in an incomplete for the course.
For students who are unable to attend the entire course, the completed assignments must be submitted by a date negotiated with Dr. Botkin.
Name Badges: Please wear your name badges to facilitate polite discussion with the faculty.
II. Student Evaluation

To satisfactorily complete the course you must:

Submit a satisfactory paper by Monday, April 11
Attend all class sessions
Participate in the small group discussions
Complete the Survey using the WebCT by 7 pm on March 29.
Grading: The papers will be read by members of the Division of Medical Ethics and graded on an Honors/Pass/Fail basis. Papers will be returned after grading. An honors grade on the paper is necessary for an honors grade for the course. The paper must achieve a passing grade for the student to achieve a passing grade for the course. The Mistakes paper will be collected in class and may be used for the group exercise, but this paper will not be graded or returned to you.

III. Course Evaluation

We need your feedback and evaluation. There will be opportunities to comment on each day’s activities, the course instructors and the course themes and objectives. Please give us your feedback when requested at

IV. Questions

If you have any questions about the course requirements, daily scheduling, etc., please contact Linda Carr-Lee, Research Assistant at 408-1701, or Jeff Botkin, Course Director, at 581-7170. Fourth Year Medical Ethics Course

WebCT General Information

This will let you know some of what is on the WebCT for this course and how you might use it. The URL for this site is You will need a Network Services Password to access this site for the course. If you do not yet one, you can do so by following the directions on the WebCT home page. I have been advised that when navigating on the WebCT, you should use the "trail of bread crumbs" at the top of the Home page, instead of the usual Back/Forward toolbar at the top of the screen. This trail might read "Home Discussions Syllabus" for instance, showing that you started at home, next visited the discussions function, and then checked the syllabus.

When you log on and get to the home page you will see icons for the following functions:

SYLLABUS – This is the complete course syllabus, including the pages of introduction and course requirements.

DISCUSSIONS (Bulletin Board) – This is an interactive function and so is being used for the field trip sign up. There is a page of instructions on how to use this included in the field trip section of the syllabus.

MAIL – This e-mail function will connect to anyone else registered for the course. It is accessed only from within the WebCT. I may occasionally send notices (perhaps if there is a change in a field trip for instance) through this e-mail, so please check it. If you prefer to check only your e-mail account, please take the time to change the setting on the WebCT by selecting Mail --- Message Settings --- Forward my mail to: --- Update.

SURVEY – You will take the survey here

SURVEY RESULTS - The results of the survey you take on the first day of class will be compiled and posted here.

ECCLES E-RESERVE – This is a link to the readings on Eccles reserve. Select the School of Medicine courses, then this course.

MEDICAL ETHICS HOMEPAGE – This is a link to the Division of Medical Ethics home page to use as a resource if you like.

SMALL GROUP DISCUSSIONS – This has your small group rosters and the schedule of discussion facilitators.

CALENDAR – A summary of course events each day. You can add your own entries on the calendar.

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