University of Pittsburgh


Patient, Physician & Society

Ethics, Law, and Professionalism

August 29, 2018-December 5, 2018
14 sessions

Course Director
Julie Childers, MD
Assistant Professor
Department of Medicine

Course Director
Joe Yanta, MD
Clinical Instructor
Department of Emergency Medicine


Course Description

Structures in society and in the profession that serve to enhance care and to protect both patients and physicians are the focus of this course.

The goals of the course are for students:

  1. to understand the relevance of law and ethics in the practice of medicine.
  2. to develop the skills of moral reasoning that are relevant to the care of patients in a professional manner.
  3. to recognize the conflicts of interest that may impair the professional behavior of physicians in dealing with their patients.
  4. to recognize the potential for conflict between the goals, beliefs, and values of physicians and patients.
  5. to develop strategies for reducing these conflicts in order to provide effective, compassionate, ethical and professional care.

The 7 lecturers and 16 small group facilitators are from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Center for Bioethics and Health Law, and School of Law, and from the Duquesne University School of Law and graduate program in Health Care Ethics, making this a truly interdisciplinary course.

Educational Methods


Small group sessions Lectures        
VpSim and modules Class discussion        



Evaluation for this course is based on participation in web-based case vignettes, participation in problem-based learning sessions, and a final multiple-choice examination.

Grading: The weighting of the course grade within a block grade is based on the length of the course. Grading for the block is Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory.

Faculty Note

Robert Arnold, MD and John Mahoney, MD, are members of the UPSOM Academy of Master Educators.