gms | German Medical Science

12. Grazer Konferenz – Qualität der Lehre: Skills and Attitudes

18.09. - 20.09.2008 in Graz, Österreich

Bioethics in the medical curriculum? Can we create room for reflection? An interdisciplinary approach

Round Table/Runder Tisch

12. Grazer Konferenz - Qualität der Lehre: Skills and Attitudes. Graz, Österreich, 18.-20.09.2008. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2009. Doc08grako13

doi: 10.3205/08grako13, urn:nbn:de:0183-08grako133

Eingereicht: 15. Januar 2009
Überarbeitet: 5. Februar 2009
Angenommen: 18. Februar 2009
Veröffentlicht: 6. April 2009

© 2009 Werner-Felmayer et al.
Dieser Artikel ist ein Open Access-Artikel und steht unter den Creative Commons Lizenzbedingungen ( Er darf vervielfältigt, verbreitet und öffentlich zugänglich gemacht werden, vorausgesetzt dass Autor und Quelle genannt werden.

Round Table Discussion/Diskussion am runden Tisch

In an era of rapid technological development that is outrunning the advancement of knowledge and is characterized by lack of time for in-depth investigation, everything appears to be doable. However, the central problems of humanity remain the same as ever. In this area of conflict, the discipline of bioethics aims at bridging between the facts generated by the life sciences, inter alia medicine, and values, developed on the basis of human experience. Critical analysis of background and coherences requires interdisciplinary access in order to appropriately taking into account the complexity of bioethical issues. To obtain competence in bioethics a major demand is to integrate views and approaches from other disciplines towards the complex issues of human health and disease. Doing this we inevitably go beyond medical expertise, thereby gaining advantage from interdisciplinary perspectives and cooperations. In other words: we try to create room for reflexion. It is both desirable and necessary that medical students as well as medical staff are ready to train their moral sensibility and ethical knowledge in terms of an open-minded interdisciplinary discussion. Although this is standard in many other countries, most Austrian medical universities do not offer formal bioethics modules included in the medical curriculum. Often it is argued that introducing such a module would increase the already high workload for the students. Medical curricula already are tightly scheduled and heavily loaded with learning matter. Moreover, it is not at all clear whether introducing bioethics as a formalized course really increases competence in this field, whether it really succeeds in training the skills of reflecting on complex issues of humanities. As we may learn from those who digged into the field of medical anthropology and related areas, the stumbling block is to bridge the gap between basically heterogeneous attitudes, evaluation criteria, and working styles. For urging discussions on ethical issues in medical contexts, it is crucial to elucidate why this requires a multi-level procedure, i.e. teaching ethics at medical universities, establishing ethics committees, promoting clinical counselling on ethical issues, offering information platforms and pportunities for further education.

The aim of the Round Table Discussion is

to get a short overview over current activities with respect to teaching bioethics/medical ethics at Austrian medical universities;
to identify problems with regard to content and logistics when aiming for an interdisciplinary approach;
to define ways of increasing the student’s and lecturer’s bioethics competence, and, in this regard, fields for possible synergies among various educational institutions.

After short statements of the organizers and the panelists concerning their own experiences, these issues will be open for discussion by all participants.