Why bother with medical ethics?
The so called soft subjects at medical school can get a lot of hassle. Psychology, communication skills, epidemiology, and behavioural science are often seen by older members of the medical profession as distractions from the real sciences of pathology, anatomy, pharmacology, or physiology. Although we can appreciate the value of communication skills when we're speaking to patients, or the value of epidemiology skills when we're trying to decipher a complex medical paper, the one subject that still seems remote and needless to many students is medical ethics. It seems to be an education in abstract philosophical theory—how exactly can that be of any use to us on the wards?
This attitude arises because many of the topics used to demonstrate ethical principles (abortion, euthanasia, transplantation, resource allocation, and so on) seem too far removed from the situations we have to deal with as students. This sense of inappropriateness can lead