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Justice and care: decision making by medical school student promotions committees.

ABSTRACT: The function of medical school entities that determine student advancement or dismissal has gone largely unexplored. The decision making of 'academic progress' or student promotions committees is examined using a theoretical framework contrasting ethics of justice and care, with roots in the moral development work of theorists Kohlberg and Gilligan.To ascertain promotions committee members' conceptualisation of the role of their committee, ethical orientations used in member decision making, and student characteristics most influential in that decision making.An electronic survey was distributed to voting members of promotions committees at 143 accredited allopathic medical schools in the USA. Descriptive statistics were calculated and data were analysed by gender, role, institution type and class size.Respondents included 241 voting members of promotions committees at 55 medical schools. Respondents endorsed various promotions committee roles, including acting in the best interest of learners' future patients and graduating highly qualified learners. Implementing policy was assigned lower importance. The overall pattern of responses did not indicate a predominant orientation toward an ethic of justice or care. Respondents indicated that committees have discretion to take individual student characteristics into consideration during deliberations, and that they do so in practice. Among the student characteristics with the greatest influence on decision making, professionalism and academic performance were paramount. Eighty-five per cent of participants indicated that they received no training.Promotions committee members do not regard orientations of justice and care as being mutually exclusive and endorse an array of statements regarding the committee's purpose that may conflict with one another. The considerable variance in the influence of student characteristics and the general absence of committee member training indicate a need for clear delineation of the medical profession's priorities in terms of justice and care, and of the specific student characteristics that should factor into deliberations.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC5431287 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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