Personal Ethic

In addition to the guidance provided by the codes of ethics of professional associations, health services managers should develop a personal code of professional moral conduct—a personal ethic. Formal academic instruction in ethics is an expected part of graduate-level health services management education. Students enter health services management education with a moral framework developed from life experience, family environment, religious values, introspection, and self-study. The academic preparation in their professional education sensitizes them to the managerial and clinical ethical issues that they are likely to encounter and provides a framework for analysis and problem-solving ethical issues. Because of the pragmatic and applied nature of their work, health services management ethics tend to be normative and ask the question "What ought I (we) to do in this situation?"

Even with additional academic preparation, however, health services managers are likely to understate the importance of having a prospectively-developed, coherent, comprehensive, and consistent personal ethic. Their academic preparation is likely to give them a mind set that they can reason through and solve almost any problem that arises. While partially true, such an approach will not aid managers in anticipating ethical issues and prospectively working to prevent them or minimizing their effect when they arise. Lack of a personal ethic is likely to result in a relativistic approach to ethical problem solving, which is generally undesirable and certainly inconsistent with the value frameworks so ubiquitous in HSOs. It is difficult to overstate the importance of a well-developed personal value system.

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