Teaching Professionalism: Theory, Principles, and Practices

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Abstract

Professionalism as a subject must be taught explicitly. This requires an institutionally accepted definition which then must be learned by both students and faculty. This directs what will be taught, expected, and evaluated. Of equal importance, and more difficult to achieve, is the incorporation of the values and attitudes of professionalism into the tacit knowledge base of physicians in training and in practice. This requires learning experiences which encourage self-reflection on professionalism throughout the continuum of medical education. Because of the great influence of role models and because most physicians do not fully understand professionalism and the obligations required to sustain it, faculty development is essential to the success of any program on professionalism. Also important are strong institutional support including adequate resources, the presence of a longitudinal program which ensures repeated exposure throughout the educational process, a supportive environment, and a system of evaluation which reinforces teaching.

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