Overcoming Institutional Challenges through Continuous Professionalism Improvement: The University of Washington Experience


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Abstract

The University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine is in the midst of an emerging ecology of professionalism. This initiative builds on prior work focusing on professionalism at the student level and moves toward the complete integration of a culture of professionalism within the UW medical community of including staff, faculty, residents, and students. The platform for initiating professionalism as institutional culture is the Committee on Continuous Professionalism Improvement, established in November 2006. This article reviews three approaches to organizational development used within and outside medicine and highlights features that are useful for enhancing an institutional culture of professionalism: organizational culture, safety culture, and appreciative inquiry. UW Medicine has defined professional development as a continuous process, built on concrete expectations, using mechanisms to facilitate learning from missteps and highlighting strengths. To this end, the school of medicine is working toward improvements in feedback, evaluation, and reward structures at all levels (student, resident, faculty, and staff) as well as creating opportunities for community dialogues on professionalism issues within the institution. Throughout all the Continuous Professionalism Improvement activities, a two-pronged approach to cultivating a culture of professionalism is taken: celebration of excellence and attention to accountability.

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