Responding to the Professionalism of Learners and Faculty in Orthopaedic Surgery

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Recent developments in assessing professionalism and remediating unprofessional behavior can curtail the inaction that often follows observations of negative as well as positive professionalism of learners and faculty. Developments include: longitudinal assessment models promoting professional behavior, not just penalizing lapses; clarity about the assess-ment's purpose; methods separating formative from summative assessment; conceptual and behavioral definitions of professionalism; techniques increasing the reliability and validity of quantitative and qualitative approaches to assessment such as 360-degree assessments, performance-based assessments, portfolios, and humanism connoisseurs; and systems-design providing infrastructure support for assessment. Models for remediation have been crafted, including: due process, a warning period and, if necessary, confrontation to initiate remediation of the physician who has acted unprofessionally. Principles for appropriate remediation stress matching the intervention to the cause of the professional lapse. Cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and continuous monitoring linked to behavioral contracts are effective remediation techniques. Mounting and maintaining robust systems for professionalism and remediating professional lapses are not easy tasks. They require a sea change in the fundamental goal of academic health care institutions: medical education must not only be a technical undertaking but also a moral process designed to build and sustain character in all its professional citizens.

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