Implementation and evaluation of a near-peer-facilitated medical ethics curriculum for first-year medical students: a pilot study

Mikalyn T. DeFoor, Lauren East, Paul C. Mann, Carol A. Nichols

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: The primary objectives of this study were to implement a novel near-peer-facilitated case-based medical ethics curriculum intended for the audience of a large cohort of first-year medical students (n = 193) and to objectively evaluate the immediate efficacy of the curriculum based on pre- and post-session survey responses to ethical quandaries. Methods: Two near-peer-facilitated medical ethics case discussion sessions were included in the first-year curriculum during the 2017–2018 academic year. The sessions were designed and led by second-year medical student facilitators under the direction of a faculty mentor and were presented as a year-long curricular thread. First-year students were asked to complete pre- and post-session surveys with ethical questions relevant to each case and session. Students were additionally asked to measure the contribution of discussion sessions to their development as a future physician. Results: Post-session survey results showed that students had a better understanding of specific ethical issues immediately following discussion sessions (p<0.0001). Over three-quarters of students indicated that the near-peer-led medical ethics case discussions contributed somewhat or very much to their development as a future physician. Anecdotal feedback from second-year medical students also suggested that their involvement as facilitators was beneficial to their educational development. Conclusion: Near-peer-facilitated case discussions were an effective strategy for teaching medical ethics to first-year medical students with demonstrated objective improvements in ethical decision-making. Additionally, near-peer discussions of ethical cases and principles with first-year medical students aided in subjective measures of professional development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-225
Number of pages7
JournalMedical Science Educator
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • Medical ethics education, Bioethics, Medical school curriculum, Near-peer learning, Case-based learning, Student satisfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Education


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