This article - the Romanell Report - offers an analysis of the current state of medical ethics education in the United States, focusing in particular on its essential role in cultivating professionalism among medical learners. Education in ethics has become an integral part of medical education and training over the past three decades and has received particular attention in recent years because of the increasing emphasis placed on professional formation by accrediting bodies such as the Liaison Committee on Medical Education and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Yet, despite the development of standards, milestones, and competencies related to professionalism, there is no consensus about the specific goals of medical ethics education, the essential knowledge and skills expected of learners, the best pedagogical methods and processes for implementation, and optimal strategies for assessment. Moreover, the quality, extent, and focus of medical ethics instruction vary, particularly at the graduate medical education level. Although variation in methods of instruction and assessment may be appropriate, ultimately medical ethics education must address the overarching articulated expectations of the major accrediting organizations. With the aim of aiding medical ethics educators in meeting these expectations, the Romanell Report describes current practices in ethics education and offers guidance in several areas: educational goals and objectives, teaching methods, assessment strategies, and other challenges and opportunities (including course structure and faculty development). The report concludes by proposing an agenda for future research.
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