604Challenges for Bioethics from Asia
At the Peking Union Medical College, 9 lectures were given to 42 college students, including making choices, diversity and bioethics; genetic privacy and information; AIDS and bioethics; brain death; organ donation (heart transplant); lifestyle and fertility; assisted reproductive technology; telling the truth about terminal cancer; and euthanasia. 10 lectures were given to 58 undergraduate students, which included making choices, diversity and bioethics; ethical limits of animal use; genetic privacy and information; brain death; organ donation (heart transplant); lifestyle and fertility; assisted reproductive technology; AIDS and bioethics; telling the truth about terminal cancer; and euthanasia. These chosen courses focus on the ethical issues that related to their professional practice and life.
Bioethics education can help students recognize and analyze moral concepts and issues. It can give an opportunity for students to engage in discussions, and examine their values while practicing resolving ethical conflicts in schools. Teaching bioethics is appropriately understood as a process of imparting a set of skills that will enable young people to make decisions in a balanced and rational way. It is proved that there is obvious interest and enthusiasm among both high school and college students when discussing of such topics as the ethical limits of animal use, genetic testing and genetic privacy, brain death, the Human Genome Project, and ethical issues related to biotechnology, social responsibilities of scientists, environmental protection and research on human subjects.
In the program, teachers’ contribution to this increased student interest is significant. They work in groups to prepare the lectures and discuss frequently how to best teach bioethics. Many teachers introduced additional materials at the lectures. Their dedicated and creative work in the earlier stage of this program should be highly appreciated. However, there are several fundamental issues need to be considered carefully. The curricula of high school and college students are very tight, and the work of teachers is extremely heavy in China. Bioethics being taught as an alternative course is still very difficult to attract much attention on it. The materials in English are difficult to both teachers and students, which brings a consensus that we should develop the materials or the textbook in Chinese too.
Teachers have a major role in the introduction and acquisition of this ethics knowledge, and the teaching outcome is very much dependent the quality and interest of teachers in China. The teachers need to be educated continuously as well, then a much higher standard of teaching can be achieved. This program will be continued in the following school year in China. The bioethical network is being established in China now. We hope to encourage more teachers from both biology and other studies backgrounds to join us. By exchanging information and ideas with each other, all of the teachers can be encouraged.
By teaching bioethics to high school and college students, in particular, to medical and nurse students at Peking Union Medical College, I have learnt that the teacher-student relationship can be understood as a model of the physician-patient relationship. Students will perform in analogy to their teachers’ performance. Therefore teachers bear a specific burden and responsibility both for their students and for the students’ later patients. As a young teacher, I deeply believe that I should behave as a good example. I listen student’s opinions carefully and support their active involvement. I teach from my heart, and in my heart I know that to study and explore bioethics together with all of my students is a great honor of mine. I am deeply grateful to my students after each lecture in deed. Let us together bring ethics to those young people, to life, and love of life.
Macer Darryl. Bioethics for the people by the people. Eubios Ethics Institute, 1994.
Nie Jingbao. Bringing Ethics to Life: A personal Statement on Teaching Medical Ethics. Ethics in Medical Education in China. Distingushing Education of Ethics in Medicine from Moral Preaching. Ole Doering (Ed.). Hamburg 2002.