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Ethics Education in Plastic Surgery Training Programs
J. Randall Patrinely Jr1, Brian C. Drolet2, Galen Perdikis3, Jeffrey Janis4 1Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA 2Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA 3Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA 4Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA

Background: Ethics training has become standard in medical schools, but there are more limited resources for graduate medical education. Although pilot ethics programs for plastic surgery residents have been successful, further research is needed to evaluate the need for more formal ethics training nationally.

Methods: A nineteen question cross-sectional needs assessment was created. The survey was pre-piloted and then piloted to establish construct validity and reliability of the instrument. The assessment was then distributed to United States plastic surgery PDs (N = 80).

Results: Forty-six surveys were completed (response rate = 58%). Most programs (63%) have some form of ethics curriculum, with a mean of 3 hours spent on ethics education annually. Nevertheless, 80% of PDs expressed interest in incorporating more formal ethics training in their training. Nearly all PDs agreed that ethics training in residency is important (96%), yet only 70% agreed that their graduating chief residents were competent to manage ethical dilemmas. Many PDs (73%) would like more resources for teaching their residents about ethics, and 86% reported they would find a standardized ethics curriculum from a plastic surgery specialty society (e.g., ACAPS) to be helpful. Decision making, informed consent, conflicts of interest, and basic principles of biomedical ethics were identified as the most important topics for an ethics curriculum.

Conclusion: There is some disconnect between the perceived importance of ethics training and the availability of formal educational resources. Ethics training was consistently identified as important, and most PDs would like to include more ethics in their curricula. Further attention is needed to resolve this gap and there is appeal for a standardized ethics curriculum in plastic surgery.

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