Office of Medical Education

Undergraduate Medical Education

Ethics and Health Law Purpose and Rationale

L1, L2

Medical students need to acquire basic knowledge of ethical and legal influences on the practice of clinical medicine in order to think more clearly about the environment they are about to enter and to develop a vision for their future practice. Introduction to Medical Ethics (CSI101) and Ethical and Legal Issues in Clinical Medicine (CSI201) introduce the students to these issues and their impact on health care decision making in case based discussion format.  “Every medical decision is first and primarily a medical decision, secondly an ethical or value decision and thirdly, often, a legal decision”.


Clerkship Ethics, introduced in the third year, is intended to introduce students to the broad spectrum of contemporary ethical issues so that students can begin to develop self awareness of how pervasive ethics and law are and will be in the practice of medicine.  The course is designed to stimulate students to identify and evaluate today’s ethical issues and to prepare them to apply these analytical tools to practice, teach, and do research in the present environment and to design value laden health care delivery systems in the future. 

Students will review articles, cases, and law rules on contemporary topics during their clerkships in an online format.  Topics will be chosen that are related to the specialty students are rotating on at the time.  Students will be evaluated by short, on line quizzes on the materials, their participation in the discussions of the cases, and an ethical dilemma they will write during their surgical rotation.


Legal Issues for Providers is presented in lecture format during special topics in the spring of the fourth year.  Bioethics law is reviewed and students are introduced to practical legal issues, including licensing, contracts, and regulatory and risk management law, which they will encounter immediately upon graduation from medical school.