Dental School Ethics and Student Morals

Dr. Bertolami’s Argument

According to Charles N. Bertolami (2004), a typical healthcare ethics curriculum has several weaknesses that jeopardize its effectiveness and contribute to the students’ disregard for the norms of ethics and morals expected from a healthcare provider. These weaknesses include the failure of the courses to evoke the learners’ interest, the lack of understanding that more education does not always help to solve practical issues, and the qualitative insufficiency of the curricula causing their inability to foster behavioral changes (Bertolami, 2004).

As seen from several cheating scandals that took place in different dental educational institutions, having taken the ethics courses, the learners still attempted to use unethical methods to see their exam tasks before taking the exam (The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2006; “Cheating scandal rocks IU dental school,” 2007). Stronger website security could help protect the confidential information but would not stop the students from trying to commit unethical acts.

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In that way, I agree that ethics courses in colleges lack the connection with the practical spheres of the profession and thus do not enforce the ethical behaviors. However, I also believe that ethical and moral views of the students form during their childhood. Therefore, the college courses have a very limited capacity of changing them significantly.

Ways to Improve the Students’ Appreciation for the Ethical Dimensions of Being a Healthcare Provider

In his article, Bertolami (2004) emphasized that the ethics courses at the dental schools and colleges are designed not to teach ethics but to teach about ethics. As a result, the ethical theory does not produce any practical effect on the students’ behavior.

In that way, the educators must explain the importance of professional ethics for the healthcare providers. The students’ appreciation for the ethical norms and requirements could be enhanced by means of emphasizing the adverse outcomes that may follow the breach of professional ethics. The future healthcare practitioners need to remember that their actions may carry legal, emotional, and physical consequences alongside the moral ones for themselves and their patients. In other words, stressing the importance of the professional ethics via its connection with versatile dimensions is one way to improve the learners’ appreciation for the ethics in healthcare delivery.

Why Do Increasing Numbers of Students Compromise Their Morals and Ethics while in Dental School?

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The cheating attempts of the dental school students indicate several different problems. First of all, the learners do not seem to be prepared to deal with the pressure and responsibilities of their chosen profession. Secondly, they do not believe that their knowledge is sufficient enough to pass an exam without cheating. Thirdly, they may be unaware of the consequences that a cheating attempt could bring.

One could note that the students may be tempted by the weak security of the college websites. However, an individual with strong morals would not attempt to see the exam tasks before they are released regardless of how well they are protected. It is possible that the students feel insecure before the exam and wish to increase their chances of graduation by means of relying on the unethical methods. This reason seems the only one worth the risk of getting expelled for the cheating students. In that way, the unethical behaviors may not result from the insufficiency of the ethic courses or the lack of interest in them but the perceived inadequacy or complexity of the exam tasks compared to the level of knowledge and preparedness among the students.

References

Bertolami, C. (2004). Why our ethics curricula don’t work. Journal of Dental Education, 68(4), 414-425. Web.

Chronicle of Higher Education. (2006). Crowning blow at troubled medical university is dental cheating scandal. Web.

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Cheating scandal rocks IU dental school. (2007). Web.

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