Health professions students’ approaches towards practice-driven ethical dilemmas; a case-based qualitative study

Phyu Hnin Hlaing, Ahmed Hasswan, Vida Salmanpour, Sarra Shorbagi, Tahra AlMahmoud, Feras Jassim Jirjees, Sausan Al Kawas, Salman Yusuf Guraya, Nabil Sulaiman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In healthcare practice, ethical challenges are inevitable and their optimal handling may potentialy improve patient care. Ethical development in medical education is critical for the transition from a medical and health sciences student to an ethical healthcare practitioner. Understanding the health professions students’ approaches towards practice-driven ethical dilemmas could harness i the effective ethical development in their medical education. This study attempts to identify the health professions students’ approaches towards practice-driven ethical dilemmas. Methods: An inductive qualitative evaluation was conducted on six recorded videos of health professions students’ case-based online group discussions, followed by a one-hour online ethics workshop. The online ethics workshop was organized with students from the College of Medicine, College of Dental Medicine and College of Pharmacy at the University of Sharjah, and the College of Medicine at the United Arab Emirates University. The recorded videos were transcribed verbatim and imported to the qualitative data analysis software of MAXQDA 2022. Data were analyzed applying four stages of review, reflect, reduce and retrieve and two different coders triangulated the findings. Results: Six themes emerged from the qualitative analysis of the health professions students’ approaches to the practice-based ethical dilemmas; (1) emotions, (2) personal experiences, (3) law and legal system, (4) professional background, (5) knowledge of medical research and (6) inter-professional education. In addition, during the case-based group discussions in the ethics workshop, students efficiently applied the relevant ethical principles of autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice in their reasoning process to reach an ethical decision. Conclusion: The findings of this study explained how health professions students resolve ethical dilemmas in their ethical reasoning process. This work sheds light on ethical development in medical education by gaining students’ perspectives in dealing with complex clinical scenarios. The findings from this qualitative evaluation will aid academic medical institutions in developing medical and research-based ethics curriculum to transform students to ethical leaders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number307
JournalBMC medical education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Ethical decision
  • Ethical dilemmas
  • Health professions students
  • Inter-professional education
  • Medical ethics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'Health professions students’ approaches towards practice-driven ethical dilemmas; a case-based qualitative study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this