Ethics Curriculum

The ethics curriculum at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is designed to provide students with the conceptual tools that they will need to navigate the ethical issues that are commonly encountered in clinical practice. Our program helps students to develop skills in critical reasoning and in using the basic concepts of medical ethics. It also fosters the habits of critical reflection and discussion about the ethical issues.

Our four-year plan is to build on the basic concepts by revisiting the central issues in the context of clinical practice through discussions tied to the clerkships and through 3rd- & 4th-yr case-based assignments that nurture and reinforce the basic skills.

We believe that a thorough exploration of ethics is critical to developing exemplary physicians. Focusing on discussion, this year’s curriculum considers the physician’s professional responsibilities, central ethical and legal principles, and research ethics.

  • Professional Responsibilities [ASM-1]
    • Student Responsibilities/ Professionalism (video)
    • Qualities of a Physician/Codes of Ethics
    • Should Patients Be Learning Tools? ("Spinal Tap" & “Corridor Rounds” videos)
  • Central Ethical & Legal Principles [ASM-1]
    • Duty to Provide Care (Trust & Fiduciary Responsibility)
    • Truth Telling and Informed Consent for Treatment
    • Confidentiality and The Duty to Warn
  • Research Ethics [Epidemiology]
    • Ethical Dangers of Human Subject Research
    • The Importance of Research and The Development of New Therapies
    • The Common Rule: Requirements for The Ethical Conduct of Research

Our bioethical education program strives to prepare you to function in a responsible and moral manner. The second year of bioethics builds on the first and emphasizes the notions of justice and medicine, the nature and value of autonomy, and issues of clinical moral reasoning.

  • Justice and Medicine [ASM-2]
    • Justice in Clinical Practice
    • The Right to Health Care
    • Allocation of Transplant Organs
  • The Nature and Value of Autonomy [ASM-2]
    • Concepts of Autonomy
    • Standards for Surrogate Decision Making
    • Refusal of Treatment and Justified Paternalism
    • Advance Directives and Proxies
  • Clinical Moral Reasoning: A Systematic Approach to Clinical Ethics Dilemmas [ASM-2]

In the third- and fourth-year clerkships students have medical ethics discussions (curriculum-driven, small group, case-based, assigned readings, co-taught by clinical and ethics faculty) on generic ethical issues that arise commonly or with special clarity in the clerkship. In the Obstetrics, Pediatrics, and Surgical clerkships, each student prepares an Ethics Project*, which consists of presenting a case and an article from the literature, and then leading a small group discussion of the case. In addition to aiming at comprehension and application of ethical concepts, these clerkship ethics sessions also focus on developing skills in clinical moral reasoning.

Clinical Clerkships

  • Critical Care -Family Meetings
  • Emergency Medicine - Confidentiality and Legal Responsibility
  • Family Practice -Adherence and Compliance
  • Geriatrics -Giving Bad News
  • Medicine -Responding to Families
  • Neurology -Disclosing a Diagnosis
  • Ob/Gyn-Reproductive Choice*
  • Pediatrics -Parental Discretion*
  • Psychiatry -Treatment over Objection and Confidentiality
  • Surgery -Identifying Ethical Issues*

 *The Ob/Gyn, Pediatrics, and Surgery clerkship ethics sessions are built around Ethics Projects.