Moral courage

I’ve just watched the view on Science and moral questions on the week 2 page and read the page highlighted in Marna’s post which clearly explains the difference between ethics and morals.  A quick google for moral ethics in healthcare found some interesting papers but especially this one on moral courage.

Thoughts so far:

  • Morals are your own internal values/opinions which influence your actions.
  • The ethics of your society and professional community may not influence your moral values but will probably influence your actions!
  • Your moral courage will determine to what extent you are prepared to honour your own moral values/opinions when these conflict with the ethical framework as determined by your society, profession, place of work etc within which you are operating.

See this news story which highlights a culture in the UK NHS that strongly discourages some moral actions of its employees – NHS whistleblower Gary Walker ‘faced bullying culture’… would you be courageous enough to do the right thing in such circumstances?  I don’t know if I would have been….


Empathy – the human element?

We have just returned to civilisation after a holiday in the hills and it is extremely exciting to to see all the activity going on in all the course blogs.  There are some fantastic insights, links to related resources and some great conversations going on… I recommend you read Michael’s post to get a small insight into all of this if you haven’t already.

So I’m not a PT/Physio and so I don’t have that perspective (although I can try to empathise with you all!) however I have been a patient. I can remember one particular review appointment with my knee consultant following an ACL reconstruction many years ago. Rather than seeing the consultant himself I was seen by one of his younger assistants. The one thing I can remember from his review of my progress was his statement that my knee was now best kept under a desk rather than being used for anything active (I can’t remember the exact words used – but “under a desk” was something that stands out). He seemed to have made no attempt to understand me and the importance of my leisure activities, and hadn’t considered the implications of this medical advice on the rest of my life or how I might feel about that. Rather than get upset I took this as a challenge which I have enjoyed ignoring ever since. I can see that not everyone would respond to this situation in the way I have and that this assistant’s medical advice could have been much better if he had taken a little time to understand my lifestyle and offered advice which took this into account as well as the implications of the medical condition of my knee.


(image from

On reading some of your posts, and coming from a background of being an engineer and computer geek I found myself thinking about if a computer was to replace a physiotherapist how this would operate in a clinical scenario. In my thought experiment this computer would be extremely professional in recording and analysing all the symptom data and returning a statistically most likely diagnosis and therefore an appropriate treatment plan. However would this computer be a good physio? In attempting to be professional and clinically detached are medical staff aiming to respond as a computer/robot would in these situations?

I think it is empathy which is missing the element that a computer/robot physio could never provide. The fact that we are human and can respond to another human through our understanding of what it means to be human as well as draw on our area of expertise as objectively as we can.

So as a patient here is what I am looking for in my physio:

  • Avoid making assumptions about me
  • Ask questions so you can understand me
  • Take time to listen and digest my responses
  • Compose your advice so that it addresses my life as well as my condition
  • Oh and be very knowledgeable and confident too!

Following your colleagues’ blogs using Reader

If you are logged in to your account when viewing the blogs of the other student’s of the ethics course you may have noticed a Follow link in the black tool bar at the top of the browser page. This Follow link allows you to add each blog to your Reader page.


The Reader is an alternative tool to Feedly which you can use to stay in touch with what is happening on all the course blogs. If you want to explore this option then I recommend taking the following steps:

  1. Login to your account.
  2. In a new tab go to the ethics course portfolios page.
  3. Click on each student name to view their blog.
  4. Click the follow link in the toolbar at the top of the page to add their blog to your Reader.follow2
  5. Go through all the student blogs clicking to follow each one.
  6. View your Reader by hovering your mouse over the WordPress icon in the toolbar at the top of the page and clicking on Reader in the pop-up menu.follow4
  7. You will now see the latest posts listed with an extract and details of any comments etc.follow5

Hope this helps!

About me!

portraitHi everybody!  This is my blog which I will keep while I support and take part in the Professional Ethics course being run by Michael Rowe from the University of Western Cape and Physiopedia.  Details of this course are available on the related Physiopedia page.

Firstly you should all know I am not a physiotherapist or a physical therapist. I am in fact a mechanical engineer by training. However I guess I am quite closely involved in the world of physio through my wife Rachael Lowe and our establishing and running of Physiopedia.  I am the geeky part of the team who deals with most of the technical stuff involved in running the site.

I also run an e-learning company called Webducate and have been involved in e-learning particularly in higher education since 1999.

So I have an interest in the course for several reasons.  Its exciting for Physiopedia to be involved in promoting and running the course, and also from an e-learning perspective this course is adopting quite a novel approach to teaching and learning which will be fascinating to be a part of.

So bear with me while I grapple with the ethical issues raised in the course and hopefully I can help support some of the course attendees as they too consider the issues presented.