The fundamental role of storytelling and practical wisdom in facilitating the ethics education of junior doctors


Practical wisdom is a key concept in the field of virtue ethics, and it has played a significant role in the thinking of those who make use of virtue when theorising medical practice and ethics. In this article, we examine how storytelling and practical wisdom play integral roles in the medical ethics education of junior doctors. Using a qualitative approach, we conducted 46 interviews with a cohort of junior doctors to explore the role doctors feel phronesis has in their medical ethics practice and how they acquire practical wisdom through storytelling as an essential part of their medical ethics education. Through thematic analysis of the interviews, we discuss the key role storytelling about moral exemplars and role models plays in developing medical ethics education, and how telling stories about role models is considered to be one of the most useful ways to learn medical ethics. We finish by developing an argument for why practical wisdom should be an important part of medical ethics training, focusing on the important role that phronesis narratives should have in teaching medical ethics.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: Languages & Social Sciences
Languages & Social Sciences > Sociology and Policy
Languages & Social Sciences > Centre for Critical Inquiry into Society and Culture (CCISC)
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
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Related URLs: https://journal ... 363459319889102 (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2019-11-18
Published Online Date: 2019-11-18
Accepted Date: 2019-11-01
Authors: Paton, Alexis (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-4310-6983)
Kotzee, Ben



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

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