An interprofessional cohort analysis of student interest in medical ethics education: A survey-based quantitative study

Mikalyn T. Defoor, Yunmi Chung, Julie K. Zadinsky, Jeffrey Dowling, Richard W. Sams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: There is continued need for enhanced medical ethics education across the United States. In an effort to guide medical ethics education reform, we report the first interprofessional survey of a cohort of graduate medical, nursing and allied health professional students that examined perceived student need for more formalized medical ethics education and assessed preferences for teaching methods in a graduate level medical ethics curriculum. Methods: In January 2018, following the successful implementation of a peer-led, grassroots medical ethics curriculum, student leaders under faculty guidance conducted a cross-sectional survey with 562 of 1357 responses received (41% overall response rate) among students enrolled in the School of Medicine, College of Nursing, Doctor of Physical Therapy and BS/(D) MD Professional Scholars programs at The Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. An in person or web-based questionnaire was designed to measure perceived need for a more in-depth medical ethics curriculum. Results: The majority of respondents were female (333, 59.3%), white (326, 58.0%) and mid-20s in age (340, 60.5%). Almost half of respondents (47%) reported no prior medical ethics exposure or training in their previous educational experience, while 60% of students across all degree programs reported an interest in more medical ethics education and 92% noted that an understanding of medical ethics was important to their future career. Over a quarter of students (28%) were interested in pursuing graduate-level training in medical ethics, with case-based discussions, small group peer settings and ethics guest lectures being the most desired teaching methods. Conclusions: The future physician, nursing and physical therapist workforce in our medical community demonstrated an unmet need and strong interest for more formal medical ethics education within their current coursework. Grassroots student-driven curricular development and leadership in medical ethics can positively impact medical education. Subsequent integration of interprofessional training in medical ethics may serve as a vital curricular approach to improving the training of ethically competent healthcare professionals and overcoming the current hierarchical clinical silos.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number26
JournalBMC Medical Ethics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 8 2020


  • Curriculum
  • Healthcare ethics
  • Interprofessional education (IPE)
  • Medical education
  • Medical ethics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy


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