Excellence in role modelling: insight and perspectives from the pros

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BackgroundRole modelling is an effective teaching method in medical education. We sought to better understand role modelling by examining the insights of respected physician role models.MethodsWe conducted 30-minute in-depth interviews with 29 highly regarded role models at 2 large teaching hospitals. We coded the transcripts independently, and compared our coding for agreement. Content analysis identified several major categories of themes.ResultsThe informants identified specific characteristics related to role modelling. Subcategories under the domain of personal qualities included interpersonal skills, a positive outlook, a commitment to excellence and growth, integrity and leadership. Under the domain of teaching, the subcategories were establishing rapport with learners, developing specific teaching philosophies and methods, and being committed to the growth of learners. Subjects thought there was some overlap between teaching and role modelling, but felt that the latter was more implicit and more encompassing. Being a strong clinician was regarded as necessary but not sufficient for being an exemplary physician role model. Perceived barriers to effective role modelling included being impatient and overly opinionated, being quiet, being overextended, and having difficulty remembering names and faces. Physician role models described role modeling consciousness, in that they specifically think about being role models when interacting with learners. Subjects believed that medical learners should emulate multiple role models.InterpretationHighly regarded physician role models possess personal qualities, teaching abilities and exceptional clinical skills that outweigh their own barriers to serving as effective role models. Many of these positive attributes of role models represent behaviours that can be modified or skills that can be acquired.

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