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“Learning on the Job”: Ethics in Postgraduate Medical Education 

“Learning on the Job”: Ethics in Postgraduate Medical Education
“Learning on the Job”: Ethics in Postgraduate Medical Education

Chryssa McAlister

, Mona Gupta

, Carrie Bernard

, Neda Ghiam

, and Philip C. Hébert

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date: 01 March 2021

Medical ethics is both a pedagogical tool and an educational component of postgraduate medical education. Residency ethics is not about ensuring trainees have the right answers. It is about encouraging self-reflection and an awareness of alternatives. This is the best preparation for independent professional practice. We examine four areas of specialization—Family Medicine, Psychiatry, Surgery, and Pediatrics—to illustrate how current standards and future directions in postgraduate training reflect this understanding of ethics. While we believe that the most appropriate preparation of residents for medical professionalism is the development of residency specific graduate ethics teaching, there is little reliable empirical evidence for the best approach to designing an ideal ethics curriculum. There is no one right way to do so. We provide an ethics decision-making tool and suggest steps that programmers might wish to take planning their postgraduate ethics teaching.

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