Antecedents and consequences of medical students' moral decision making during professionalism dilemmas

Lynn Monrouxe, Malissa Shaw, Charlotte Rees

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Medical students often experience professionalism dilemmas (which differ from ethical dilemmas) wherein students sometimes witness and/or participate in patient safety, dignity, and consent lapses. When faced with such dilemmas, students make moral decisions. If students’action (or inaction) runs counter to their perceived moral values - often due to organizational constraints or power hierarchies - they can suffer moral distress, burnout, or a desire to leave the profession. If moral transgressions are rationalized as being for the greater good, moral distress can decrease as dilemmas are experienced more frequently(habituation); if no learner benefit is seen, distress can increase with greater exposure to dilemmas (disturbance). We suggest how medical educators can support students’ understandings of ethical dilemmas and facilitate their habits of enacting professionalism: by modeling appropriate resistance behaviors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-577
Number of pages10
JournalAMA Journal of Ethics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017

Cite this