The informal curriculum: general practitioner perceptions of ethics in clinical practice

Sturman, Nancy J., Parker, Malcolm and van Driel, Mieke L. (2012) The informal curriculum: general practitioner perceptions of ethics in clinical practice. Australian Family Physician, 41 12: 981-984.

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Name Description MIMEType Size Downloads
Author Sturman, Nancy J.
Parker, Malcolm
van Driel, Mieke L.
Title The informal curriculum: general practitioner perceptions of ethics in clinical practice
Journal name Australian Family Physician   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0300-8495
Publication date 2012-12-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 41
Issue 12
Start page 981
End page 984
Total pages 4
Place of publication South Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Publisher Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Background: Australian medical students should graduate with an understanding of the principles of medical law and ethics, and their application to clinical settings. Although student perspectives have been studied previously, the teacher experience of ethical issues also needs to be understood, particularly in the general practice setting.

Methods: Interviews were conducted with a convenience sample of 13 general practitioner teachers. They were asked to reflect on common and/or important ethical issues in their day-to-day practice. An inductive thematic analysis of the data was performed by two investigators, who reached a consensus on major themes using an iterative, dialogic process.

Results: Participants reported negotiating ethical issues frequently. Major themes included patient-doctor relationships, professional differences, truth-telling, ethically ‘grey’ areas and the personal demands of ethical decision making.

Discussion: General practitioners in this study describe sometimes needing to apply judgement and compromise in situations involving legal or ethical issues, in order to act in the best interests of patients and to successfully negotiate the patient-doctor relationship. Students learning in this clinical context may perceive mixed messages and ethical lapses in these challenging ‘grey’ areas. The ethical acumen and emotional resilience of both students and clinical teachers may be enhanced by ongoing reflective discussion with colleagues.
Keyword Ethics
Medical students
Hidden curriculum
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Discipline of General Practice Publications
Official 2013 Collection
School of Medicine Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 3 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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