Online Medical Ethics Courses and Classes Overview

Online courses in medical ethics address issues surrounding medical practitioners at many levels, including the rights of patients, human subject experimentation and genetic testing. Such courses are available through the continuing education divisions of some medical schools and as a part of both graduate and undergraduate degree programs.

Online Courses in Medical Ethics

The following are medical ethics courses commonly found online.

  • Introduction to Medical Ethics: This course is aimed at providing a general understanding of the ethical questions posed by maintaining and improving public health. It addresses ethical issues raised by clinical research and medical practice, as well as any impact those issues may have on the community or global level.
  • Medical Ethics Overview: Students interested in an in-depth discussion of medical ethics at the associate or bachelor's degree program level may take a general medical ethics course. The course will likely cover traditional philosophical ethical theories which students will then apply to contemporary dilemmas.
  • Clinical Topics in Medical Ethics: Mostly aimed at practicing physicians, this course discusses new technological advances and ethical situations often encountered in clinical practice. Students may utilize ethical decision-making models and apply them to current ethical issues in clinical practice such as end-of-life decision-making, euthanasia or clinical research.
  • History of Medical Ethics: A study of the philosophical origins of medical ethics may be offered in graduate degree programs. The course will likely explore the basics of moral philosophy and classic ethical theories before discussing contemporary medical ethics. The course may also introduce students to the development of the idea of a medical professional and their role throughout history.
  • Ethics for Healthcare Professionals: In this class, case studies from real world situations are used to examine the issues surrounding individuals who work in medical environments. Among the topics discussed are the legal rights of patients, transitioning from paper to an electronic medical record (EMR) and medical research using human subjects.
  • Ethical Aspects of End-of-Life Care: This course tackles the complicated ethical issues surrounding medicine's ability to both extend and terminate life. Students will learn about the costs associated with extending life, doctor assisted suicide and a patient's decision to forgo life-extending intervention.
  • Philosophical Bioethics: Students in this class will gain a deeper understanding of the philosophical side of ethics in medicine and science. Major theories of ethics, as well as their historical context, will be discussed, including natural law, virtue ethics and utilitarianism.

Program Information

Courses in medical ethics are frequently offered online as part of a continuing education certificate for physicians and other medical professionals. Classes in this field are also available for master's, bachelor's and associate degree-seeking students undertaking a health-related program. Some medical schools offer degrees in bioethics, which also examine the ethical issues surrounding physicians, policy makers and medical researchers within the healthcare industry.

There are plenty of options for those seeking online medical ethics training. Generally, these courses are part of a broader medical degree at the associate's, bachelor's or master's levels, or may be part of a certificate program. Topics of study include the ethics of end-of-life care, philosophy of ethics and the history of medical ethics.

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