Bioethics in India: Proceedings of the International Bioethics Workshop in Madras: Biomanagement of Biogeoresources, 16-19 Jan. 1997, University of Madras; Editors: Jayapaul Azariah, Hilda Azariah, & Darryl R.J. Macer, Copyright Eubios Ethics Institute 1997.

108. Attitudes and ethics in medicine: undergraduate medical student perceptions

K.P. Kochhar
Department of Physiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi - 110 029.

A medical student through medical school is a pilgrim whose progress is both a privilege as well as a penance. Why one joined the medical profession? What are the ethical perceptions of a prospective doctor? To address the above issues and derive strategies for teaching ethics in a `hidden curriculum' to medical students at All India Institute of Medical Sciences a cross sectional analytical study was done on 78 medical undergraduates. A multiple response questionnaire was designed to seek their responses on some crucial ethical issues regarding their joining this profession, their options on a career choice and awareness of social causes like preference for spouse, family size, rural service, charity, animal experimentation, quality in a good teacher etc.

All the responses were pooled and quantified in order of and priority on a ten point scale (mean S.D.). The highest scoring reason for opting a medical career was intellectual fulfillment (7.46 2.71) followed by healing the sick (6.52 1.93) and glamour (6.47 2.87) of the profession which scored equally. Self employment (7.02 2.43), going abroad (6.8 2.6) and academic research (6.6 2.89) were the major career options. The family size norm of one daughter and one son scored highest (8.15 1.83). The students preferred a criterion based knowledge assessment (7.44 1.76) to a norm based one (3.06 2.75). Honesty, efficiency, simplicity and friendliness scored highest in qualities desirable in a `good' teacher.

Questions seeking critical incident reports of first exposure to blood or cadaver elicited equanimitous replies. Human experiments and clinical examination including hospital visits were stressed upon and animal experimentation not preferred. There is a crying need for concurrent feedback based ethical teaching for medical students at all levels to expand our base of attitudinal awareness to ethics and deriving need based strategies from the predictions evolved. A medical teacher also should be trained to prescribe not only for patients but also as a preceptor for prospective physicians.

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