Prepared for practice? : UK Foundation Doctors' Confidence in Dealing with Ethical Issues in the Workplace

Corfield, Lorraine and Latcham, Natalie and Lavelle, Claire and Talash, Khojasta and Williams, Richard and Machin, Laura (2021) Prepared for practice? : UK Foundation Doctors' Confidence in Dealing with Ethical Issues in the Workplace. Journal of Medical Ethics, 47 (12): e25. ISSN 0306-6800

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This paper investigates the medical law and ethics (MEL) learning needs of Foundation doctors (FYs) by means of a national survey developed in association with key stakeholders including the General Medical Council and Health Education England. Four hundred sevnty-nine doctors completed the survey. The average self-reported level of preparation in MEL was 63%. When asked to rate how confident they felt in approaching three cases of increasing ethical complexity, more FYs were fully confident in the more complex cases than in the more standard case. There was no apparent relationship with confidence and reported teaching at medical school. The less confident doctors were no more likely to ask for further teaching on the topic than the confident doctors. This suggests that FYs can be vulnerable when facing ethical decisions by being underprepared, not recognising their lack of ability to make a reasoned decision or by being overconfident. Educators need to be aware of this and provide practical MEL training based on trainee experiences and real-world ethics and challenge learners’ views. Given the complexities of many ethical decisions, preparedness should not be seen as the ability to make a difficult decision but rather a recognition that such cases are difficult, that doubt is permissible and the solution may well be beyond the relatively inexperienced doctor. Educators and supervisors should therefore be ensuring that this is clear to their trainees. This necessitates an environment in which questions can be asked and uncertainty raised with the expectation of a supportive response.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Medical Ethics
Additional Information:
This article has been accepted for publication in Journal of Medical Ethics following peer review, and the Version of Record can be accessed online at © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? health(social science)issues, ethics and legal aspectshealth policy ??
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Deposited On:
23 Mar 2020 10:35
Last Modified:
12 Feb 2024 00:37