What are medical ethics? These intriguing notions dwelled and still do my mind but luckily I have come to terms with them that I have to get the grips of them, otherwise my dreams, my career and my future will be compromised. By the way, I am Periklis Giannakis, I live in Greece and I am a year 12/IB1 in an American College in Athens, Greece. I will be applying for entry in the British Medical schools in 2018. I first saw and heard them at a summer school, this year where I practiced them quite substantially but take my word for it if you do not integrate them in your work experience and your life, they will become like the things we learn in history which pass from one ear and exits the other just like that. To be honest, I really like them, you might have already figured out that I am crazy, spoiler alert: I am not but you need to see the bright side of everything, likewise medical ethics will be your compass not only in the interview but also in hospitals too.
It is essential to set up some foundations before moving on. By ethics in medicine, we mean codes of manner and principles that are to be followed if we want to achieve good medical practice. There are four basic pillars of medical ethics: autonomy; beneficence; non maleficence; and justice. To my mind and according to the BMA, I interpret them as following: autonomy states that the patient has the right to choose what he/she wants to do with his/her health, I am there to advise, not to force him/her but deliver the treatment he/she in the best way possible and also the duty of the doctor to keep the patients privacy safe; beneficence states that I will do only good to the patient; non maleficence states I will cause no harm to the patient because your ultimate goal is to make them better not worse; and justice is that everyone will be treated equally no matter who he/she is, where he is coming from, but matter to his condition. All of these notions may sound to you strange or superficial but in a few years when you eventually get in to medical school you will finally realise why med schools require it from you! In order to maximise your understanding of these, it is preferable that you learn them by heart and then on your work experience in a hospital or practice, try to connect the doctor’s decision making with these interesting pillars discussed above. More extensively, in order for autonomy to have power the patient needs to be competent mentally so a test is to be done to determine whether the doctor will respect his/her autonomy, otherwise the doctor is not sure whether them patient can make informed decisions about his/her health. There are many guidelines that facilitate these conducts like the Fraser guidelines or the Monygomerys guidelines which every British doctor needs to be aware of them plus the medical applicants.
What I did and still do is when I learned them, I asked my father who is an eye surgeon what is the usefulness of them and he answered me back that without them you are lost in an abyss of unlimited temptations and challenges that the profession entails! He advised me learn them but also to understand them in order to fully grasp them! After this discussion with my father I decided to start a new chapter to my work experience in an A&E, where I would observe different doctors from different specialities. What I saw, besides the normal and extraordinary things that they do which I look forward doing too in the years to come, how they based their reasoning in terms with the relation with their patients. Guess what, the four pillars were the underlying principles to their decision making, hence every medical applicant should be learning this piece of information no matter where he applies but matter to the fact that he is embarking to the studies that change lives, make them better, the best ones and most demanding ones in the world so having these tools will give an edge and well equip you.
By Periklis Giannakis