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Cost analyses in medical education are rarely straightforward, and rarely lead to clear-cut conclusions. Occasionally they do lead to clear conclusions but even when that happens, some stakeholders will ask difficult but valid questions about what to do following cost analyses–specifically about distributive justice in the allocation of resources. At present there are few or no debates about these issues and rationing decisions that are taken in medical education are largely made subconsciously. Distributive justice ‘concerns the nature of a socially just allocation of goods in a society’. Inevitably there is a large degree of subjectivity in the judgment as to whether an allocation is seen as socially just or ethical. There are different principles by which we can view distributive justice and which therefore affect the prism of subjectivity through which we see certain problems. For example, we might say that distributive justice at a certain institution or in a certain medical education system operates according to the principle that resources must be divided equally amongst learners. Another system may say that resources should be distributed according to the needs of learners or even of patients. No ethical system or model is inherently right or wrong, they depend on the context in which the educator is working.
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- Ethics of cost analyses in medical education
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