Tips from BESD: Practical strategies for delivering education about ethics

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, April 30, 2010

Ethical dilemmas occur with increasing frequency in the healthcare environment. Examples of situations that trigger ethical dilemmas include reporting (or failing to report) errors, collegial misconduct, and coping with the results of genetic testing. But how often do we address the topic of ethics in our continuing education endeavors? Ethics is integral to nearly every decision we make as healthcare providers. Let's consider some practical strategies for the delivery of ethics education.

Ideally, hold a group session where learners have the opportunity to discuss and debate. These types of discussions will be lively, since there are often no clear-cut right or wrong solutions. But ethics education can also be done through distance learning.

Give participants a handout that provides definitions of basic ethical terms. You and your learners must define these terms before discussions and/or self-analysis take place. Remember that ethical discussions involve not only deliberation among colleagues, but also an examination of one's personal beliefs of right and wrong, which can be personally painful.

Editor's note: This excerpt was adapted from the May 2010 issue of Briefings on Evidence-Based Staff Development. Discover all the benefits of subscribing to Briefings on Evidence-Based Staff Development.

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