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Clinical Ethics and the Profession of Medicine Online Elective and End of Life Care Clinical & Cultural Issues Online Elective

Last Updated: March 29, 2020


This is an online course built as a two-week elective for fourth years. A module is built for each week in our Learning Management System. Each weekly module has themed modules that are built to cover 1 to 2 days of that week. Every day, students are assigned articles, audio interviews, TED talks, and cases to review under each theme and post on a discussion board. Two posts are required for each day. One post is required to be an independent thought, a new prompt, or to introduce a new resource. The second post can be an opinion or response to other posts. Note, if days are combined (i.e. Module and Discussion Board for Day 2&3) the student must complete two posts for each day for a total of four posts on this discussion board. With the current situation allowing schedules to be more flexible, we have allowed students to also schedule Zoom group discussions that they record and then post a link of the recording to the discussion board for credit and to allow those who could not be available to review and add to the discussion. We typically cap the class at 12 to make the discussion boards more manageable for a small group discussion. The first and last day do have a slightly different format. The first day is more of an introduction to the course so this discussion board post is about an ethical situation the student experienced on clerkships. There is also a Day 1 assignment to help them understand how to dissect and ethical article and create prompts for discussing it. The students are asked to pick two articles that fit within the daily themes, but is not a provided article. They then must submit these two articles with a minimum of three prompts. The last day is dedicated to the final project and the discussion board is a reflection on what they will take from the course and an opportunity to provide any feedback. The final project requires the student to find two articles on the same subject that have opposing views. They must reflect on the two articles and form their own opinion on the topic they select. We allow a written or recorded oral presentation. AMA Citation style is required. The daily themes are as follows for Clinical Ethics and the Profession of Medicine: Week 1 - Day 1 Introduction to Clinical ethics, Day 2 & 3 Relationships and Consideration fo Boundaries, Day 4 & 5 Professional Behavior (e-Professionalism & Pharma) Week 2 - Day 6 Spirituality & Medicine, Day 7 The Development of Ethics Committees, Day 8 & 9 End of Life Care & Issues, Day 10 - Final Project & Reflection The daily themes are as follows for End of Life Care Clinical & Cultural Issues: Week 1 - Day 1 Introduction to End of Life Care Clinical & Cultural Issues, Day 2 Facing Death, Day 3 Relationships & Boundaries, Day 4 & 5 Helping Your Patient Prepare for End of Life Week 2 - Day 6 Options as Your Patient Nears the End of Life, Day 7 & 8 Evolution and Development of End of Life Care, Day 9 Assisted Dying, Day 10 - Final Project & Reflection This was originally built for fourth year students to do on the road as they traveled for interviews. This has been a format we have had in place since 2014. We expanded it to serve our Family Medicine Residents, and then added the End of Life elective because we were so pleased with the results. The student discussions are always very engaging and we have never had to interject ourselves into the discussion boards. We remain pleasantly surprised at the amount each student contributes and the depth of reflection on their own experiences. We are now working on a new ethics course on ethical decisions encountered during a pandemic. The elective is Pass/Fail based on a points system. 200 total points are available. The breakdown is divided across the assignments as follows: Day 1 assignment 30 points, Final Assignment 70 points, Discussion boards (20 posts at 5 points each) 100points. 140 points are required to receive a passing grade (70%). A one drive folder is included that has a folder for each course. There is a syllabus, schedule, lists of a variety of resources we have or are currently using.


Caroline Abercrombie, MD, ETSU Quillen College of Medicine (abercrombiec@etsu.edu)
Tom Townsend, MD, ETSU Quillen College of Medicine