A Comparison of Humanistic Qualities Among Medical Students, Residents, and Faculty Physicians in Internal Medicine


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Abstract

Humanistic qualities of integrity, respect and compassion are important components of medical education. Studies, however, suggest that students may not perceive their faculty physicians as humanistic. Knowing how the perception of humanistic qualities varies by training level may offer insight on how we teach humanism. In this study, the authors compared humanistic quality scores of fourth-year medical students, internal medicine residents, and attending physicians on a general medicine ward of a teaching hospital. A validated nursing survey to assess humanistic qualities among physicians was distributed to randomly selected nurses on the medicine wards. The survey measured physician relationships with other medical staff, the patient, and family members. Each item was scored on a 5-point Likert scale. Composite scores for physician to staff relationships and physician to patient/family relationships, as well as an overall evaluation score, were compared across levels of physician training. A t test was done to determine statistical significance across training levels. No statistically significant differences were found between internal medicine residents and attending physicians. Subinterns appear to have better perceived qualities of humanism compared with resident and attending physicians. Because resident and attending physicians play an important role in medical education, efforts should be made to improve the perceived humanistic qualities of both resident and attending physicians.

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