Advanced Clinical Ethics

Canvas eLearning 

Course Overview

Respect for autonomy is a prominent guiding principle in contemporary medicine. The purpose of this course is to explore some of the ways in which physicians’ duty to respect patients’ autonomy can become ethically challenging. First, respect for patients’ autonomy involves more than simply deferring to their wishes, and thus it imposes positive duties on physicians to both take steps necessary to promote autonomous decision-making and to eliminate obstacles to autonomy. Second, some patients lack the relevant decision-making capacity when healthcare decisions must be made, and thus someone else must be charged with making decisions on their behalf. Third, patients’ autonomous choices can at times conflict with physicians’ values and beliefs.

Given that clinical practice is varied and complex, in this course we try to identify and critically evaluate the questions and challenges that surface from patient decision-making in different clinical settings, from end-of-life decisions, to organ donation, to reproductive choices, to pediatrics, to patient refusals of care.

This course also promotes self-reflective and humanistic practice, and aims to counteract beliefs and practices learned through exposure to the informal and hidden curriculum. It examines and critically analyzes some of the behaviors and norms to which students are exposed during their clinical clerkships and explore how they might impact professionalism and humanism in medicine. To better prepare students for clinical practice, the course will examine how to respond to ethical challenges in clinical care as well as professionalism, the psychosocial and contextual factors that influence care, and the role of medical technology in shaping beliefs about end-of-life care. As a bonus, the course provides the basics of health legislation in Qatar. 

Course Objectives


  • Identify and analyze ethical challenges in clinical care, particularly in relation to autonomy
  • Develop strategies to enhance and properly balance the autonomy of patients and clinicians
  • Devise strategies for navigating difficult conversations with patients and surrogates
  • Identify psychosocial and contextual factors that influence care
  • Identify mechanisms to prevent ethical problems from arising whenever possible
  • Understand the basic health legislation in Qatar


  • Address ethical concerns regarding autonomy
  • Identify mechanisms to prevent ethical problems from arising
  • Communicate in an empathic and humanistic manner with patients and their surrogates
  • Reflect on and critically evaluate humanistic dimensions of medical practice


  • Appreciate ethical problems faced by patients, surrogates, and clinicians
  • Respect the diverse personal goals and values of patients and surrogates
  • Assume responsibility for learning about communication strategies

Course Director: Pablo Rodriquez del Pozo, MD, JD, PhD

Staff Support: