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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Physical therapist students as moral agents during clinical experiences
by Nordstrom, Terrence M., Ed.D., University of San Francisco, 2008, 367; 3317689
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of physical therapist students as moral agents when confronting ethical issues during their clinical internships. Five physical therapist students and the four physical therapists who served as their clinical instructors participated in this qualitative study. Data collection methods used with each participant were written journals, three individual semi-structured interviews, and a focus group after the conclusion of the internships.

Students encountered ethical issues that concerned the everyday practice of physical therapists and some that were particular to the student role during clinical experiences. They used internal, reflective processes and external resources, such as clinical instructors, to reason through the ethical issues. The clinical instructors played an instrumental role in setting the stage for the students' moral agency and guiding them through that role.

The way in which the students conceptualized their relationship with patients fell along a continuum that can be described in the work of Buber (1970) and was related to how they acted as moral agents. Their conceptual stance toward their relationship with patients was the foundation upon which they acted ethically as moral agents. Students who more frequently approached their relationship with patients as people in a larger social context had a tendency to use patient-centered collaborative approaches to reasoning in which the patient played an integral role in the student's moral agency. Students with a tendency toward an objectified stance toward patients tended to use clinician-centered inductive approaches to ethical reasoning in which the patient was not as actively involved in their reasoning and actions as moral agents. All of the students combined inductive reasoning with deductive reasoning that relied on moral principles, ethical duties, and moral values. It was through the students' use of complex responsive processes of relating, both internal and external, that they socially constructed their identity as moral agents and gave meaning to their experiences as moral agents (Stacey, 2001). These complex responsive processes of relating offered an explanation for students who chose not to act with moral courage when faced with an ethical dilemma.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bloch, Deborah
School: University of San Francisco
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 69/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Physical therapy, Higher education
Keywords: Clinical education, Complexity science, Education, professional, Ethical reasoning, Ethics, clinical, Ethics, professional, Physical therapist students, Physical therapy
Publication Number: 3317689
ISBN: 978-0-549-65704-0
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