Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Calling all Ethics.

Today at school we had a town meeting... which is just what they call inviting everyone in the school to come to a forum where we discuss the ethical policies in our school.  I wont lie... it was the free pizza they offered that enticed me to come, but once I was there it was actually really interesting.

Maybe its not like this for everyone but when it comes to big name issues, such as ethics, I know somewhere in me is an opinion.  Cause lets be real, we deal with ethical issues for the most part on a daily basis, without even giving it a second thought (choose the right anyone?).  But when people start talking about it, I feel like it sparks thoughts that arent quite complete.  They are the trace beginning of a sentence and give the feeling that its just on the tip of my tongue.  But I seem to be able to get nothing out but questions, poking around the edges of the issue. 

One of things that we talked about today was the classic "whistle blowing"... I've heard some people comment that if they see cheating, they'll look the other way.  Cause if someone has to cheat to get through school they figure they'll get their just desserts when they get into the clinical setting.  Cause its pretty tough to fake that you know the procedures.  Another person stated that often they ignore cheating because what right do they have to destroy someone's future life, based on one time of cheating.  Other people brought up that often, even if students do come forward to complain about cheating in the school setting, that its professors who look the other way, not wanting to "deal" with the issues it causes.  

As you can tell it gave me alot to think about.  

Something that I thought was interesting that the director of Ethics at our school said, was that the profession of dentistry is self-governed.  And that is how we want it to be, because it would be a hassle if someone who knew nothing about what we were doing, came in and told us how to do it.  He stressed the point that to be a self-governing body, who people give their trust to, we have to become in the habit of regulating ourselves.  Which specifically means that we should be whistle-blowing.  He said that when we leave the school setting, that it will be up to us to monitor and make sure that the dentists around us are living up to a standard that we (as a dental community) have set.  We shouldnt be turning the blind eye to unethical behaviour.  Not now in the school setting and not when we leave school to venture out on our own. 

But another point made as we discussed was that there will always be people that are going to act unethically.  They lied their way into school, they cheated their way through the system and they ended up on top.  How can you fight that?  Is anything we do really going to change that?  Not likely.  And that is a sobering thought.

The administration that was there also talked about what they do when they are presented with an accusation of unethical behaviour.  Which raised more questions.  First off, you see someone cheating and report them to your faculty administrator - if you can convince them to do something about it - how do they prove it?  Because really, its just one persons word against anothers'.  They also talked about how they hold a judicial counsel made of some faculty, administration and students.  Right now these counsels arent broadcasted to students.  They assured us that even if it doesnt seem like it, they do try to deal with the issues.  But I'm almost inclined to think that maybe they should publicize that.  Cause public shame - thats a big deterrent for bad behaviour.  But on the other side of the the issue, they dont publicize it because they need to protect the accused - especially if they are falsely accused.  

Anyways the jist of the town meeting - it'll be continued at another date.  How suiting that there are no real answers, just alot of ideas and opinions.     

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