Hersher Institute: Module on Ethical Reasoning in Developmental Disabilities
Instructors' Guide to Infusing Ethical Reasoning
In Clinical Case Discussions
We suggest the following classroom activities to use in presenting an ethics module within a pre-professional course in the health professions:
General Ethical Reasoning:
Have students read the “Mini-Guide to Ethical Reasoning” and discuss how it could be applied to clinical cases of children with disabilities and their famililes.
Use Ethical Reasoning Rubric to discuss the issues involved one of the case modules, as students practice ethical decision-making skills and learn how to describe and analyze positions on ethical issues. Encourage students to rate themselves on each parameter of the rubric:
Understanding Different Ethical Perspectives/Concepts
Ethical Issue Recognition
Application of Ethical Perspectives/Concepts
Evaluation of Different Ethical Perspectives/Concepts
Issues to include in discussion
weighing treatment that is beneficial or futile
considering pain and suffering involved in treatment
considering the individual’s short-term and long-term prognosis.
chance of surviving medical intervention
future quality of life
Repeat with other cases, if desired
After discussing clinical aspects of the case, have students focus on how they would use principles of ethical reasoning to help families address the ethical issues identified for the case.
Have student role play various case participants (parents, various medical professionals) and express the moral values of each.
Discuss how, as a health professional the students could guide family members to decide how to enact their moral values in decisions about the case
Introduce conflicting interest perspectives; e.g., cost of treatment, pain and suffering involved in treatment, short vs. long-term perspectives, autonomy vs. rights of others. Have students discuss how these might affect their own thinking; how/when they should/should not be introduced into discussions with families.
Return to clinical aspects of the case, and have students identify what clinical decisions will be affected by these discussions of ethics and morals, and how.
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