Three hundred and twenty-three residents in six internal medicine programs in three states were surveyed concerning what they wanted to learn about medical ethics and how they would prefer to learn it; they were also asked to indicate what medical ethics education they had already received. Specifically, the residents were given a list of 35 medical ethics topics and asked to indicate whether they would like more attention to a topic, or whether it had received enough or too much attention. (They could also indicate that they thought the topic was inappropriate for attention during residency.) The residents were also given a list of 17 teaching methods for medical ethics and asked to indicate whether each method was very useful, somewhat useful, or not useful. Sixty-one percent of the residents responded. Approximately three-fourths of these had had some formal teaching about medical ethics in both medical school and residency, and nearly all indicated that they wanted more ethics training on specific topics. Certain topics were chosen as particularly suitable or unsuitable for such training; many of those judged as deserving more attention concerned legal issues and end-of-life issues. Most of the responding residents regarded standard clinical teaching formats as very useful for learning about medical ethics but regarded several other methods as not useful. The authors discuss the implications of these and related findings.
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