Professionalism Training For Surgical Residents: Documenting the Advantages of a Professionalism Curriculum

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Abstract

Objectives:

Professionalism education is a vital component of surgical training. This research attempts to determine whether an annual, year-long professionalism curriculum in a large surgical residency can effectively change professionalism attitudes.

Summary of Background Data:

The ACGME mandated 6 competencies in 2003. The competencies of Professionalism and Interpersonal/Professional Communication Skills had never been formally addressed in surgical resident education in the past.

Methods:

A professionalism curriculum was developed focusing on specific resident professionalism challenges: admitting mistakes, effective communication with colleagues at all levels, delivering the news of an unexpected death, interdisciplinary challenges of working as a team, the cultural challenge of obtaining informed consent through an interpreter, and the stress of surgical practice on you and your family. These professionalism skills were then evaluated with a 6-station Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). Identical OSCE scenarios were administered to 2 cohorts of surgical residents: in 2007 (before instituting the professionalism curriculum in 2008) and again in 2014. Surgical residents were rated by trained Standardized Patients according to a behaviorally anchored professionalism criteria checklist.

Results:

An analysis of variance was conducted of overall OSCE professionalism scores (% well done) as the dependent variable for the 2 resident cohorts (2007 vs 2014). The 2007 residents received a mean score of 38% of professionalism items “well done” (SD 9%) and the 2014 residents received a mean 59% “well done” (SD 8%). This difference is significant (F = 49.01, P < .001).

Conclusions:

Professionalism education has improved surgical resident understanding, awareness, and practice of professionalism in a statistically significant manner from 2007 to 2014. This documented improvement in OSCE performance reflects the value of a professionalism curriculum in the care of the patients we seek to serve.

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