Simulation: A New Approach to Teaching Ethics

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The importance of ethical conduct in health care was acknowledged as early as the fifth century in the Hippocratic Oath and continues to be an essential element of clinical practice. Providers face ethical dilemmas that are complex and unfold over time, testing both practitioners' knowledge and communication skills. Students learning to be health care providers need to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to negotiate complex situations involving ethical conflict. Simulation has been shown to be an effective learning environment for students to learn and practice complex and overlapping skills sets. However, there is little guidance in the literature on constructing effective simulation environments to assist students in applying ethical concepts. This article describes realistic simulations with trained, standardized patients that present ethical problems to graduate-level nurse-midwifery students. Student interactions with the standardized patients were monitored by faculty and peers, and group debriefing was used to help explore students' emotions and reactions. Student feedback postsimulation was exceedingly positive. This simulation could be easily adapted for use by health care education programs to assist students in developing competency with ethics.

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