Health Policy

What Do Dental Students Learn in an Ethics Course? An Analysis of Student-Reported Learning Outcomes

Sharp, H.M.; Kuthy, R.A.


The purpose of this article is to report first-year dental students’ perceptions of their primary learning outcomes from a course in ethics and professionalism. Students were asked to identify one topic or theme from the course that might influence their professional practice. Responses from 232 students were analyzed according to the explicit topics taught in the course. The most commonly identified topics were confidentiality (21 percent), informed consent (21 percent), and obtaining assent from children and adolescents (19 percent). An ad hoc analysis of students’ narratives provides preliminary evidence that students perceive an increased awareness of their role and obligations as a professional immediately after a course in ethics and professionalism. The long-term influence of coursework in ethics and professionalism remains unknown.