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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

External organisations

  • University of Leicester


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.


Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
Early online date18 Nov 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Nov 2019


  • United Kingdom, empirical ethics, medical ethics education, narrative, phronesis, practical wisdom, qualitative, sociological bioethics, storytelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas