Informed consent is a foundational concept in modern medicine. Despite physicians’ ethical and legal obligations to obtain informed consent, no standard curriculum exists to teach residents relevant knowledge and skills. This paper presents a qualitative study of residents at one academic medical center. The authors conducted focus groups with trainees in the Departments of Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine, and Ob/Gyn and analyzed their responses using rigorous qualitative methods. Four themes emerged: First, participants agreed that informed consent and decision-making capacity were relevant in many clinical situations. Second, participants varied widely in their understandings of consent. Third, current resident training was insufficient. Fourth, more training was needed. These results add to the growing literature that ethics education in residency is desired and useful. The findings will help educators craft instruments assessing the prevalence and degree of deficiencies related to informed consent competencies and aid in the development of a model curriculum.



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