Academic journal article College and University

Assessing Perceived Professionalism IN MEDICAL SCHOOL APPLICANTS

Academic journal article College and University

Assessing Perceived Professionalism IN MEDICAL SCHOOL APPLICANTS

Article excerpt

ONE WAY OF ASSURING PROFESSIONAL BEHAVIOR IN DOCTORS IS TO ENSURE THAT ONLY THOSE STUDENTS WHO ARE LIKELY TO BEHAVE PROFESSIONALLY ARE ADMITTED TO MEDICAL SCHOOL. THE PURPOSE OF THIS STUDY IS TO EVALUATE THE USEFULNESS OF AN INSTRUMENT TO EVALUATE THE PROFESSIONAL BEARING OF APPLICANTS AT THE TIME OF THE MEDICAL SCHOOL INTERVIEW.

Citing studies that suggest members of the public believe physicians as a group lack listening and communication skills and empathy,

leaders in medical education have argued that medical schools have an obligation to graduate students with a specific set of professional skills, qualities, and behaviors (Cohen 2006; Stern, Frohna and Gruppen 2005). In response, a number of professional organizations across the continuum of medical education have worked diligently in recent years to define professionalism; enumerate professional standards and codes of conduct; and delineate behavioral markers indicative of professional behaviors in medical settings (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education 2004; American Board of Internal Medicine 2001; Association of American Medical Colleges 2002, 2004; and National Board of Medical Examiners 2006). The Association of American Medical Colleges (aamc) published Learning Objectives for Medical Student Education, which outlines the attributes medical students should possess at graduation (aamc 1998). Two of the four attributes, altruistic and dutiful, focus on competencies and attitudes related to professionalism (e.g. , a commitment to advocacy, respect for patient privacy, and honesty and integrity in all interactions). Similarly, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education's (acgme) Outcome Project provides all residency programs with assessment tools for evaluating behaviors associated with professionalism, including compassion, respect for privacy, and sensitivity to diverse patient populations (acgme 2004). Furthermore, initiatives at medical schools are currently underway to ensure that the formal and experiential teaching of professionalism is enhanced and that ongoing assessments occur throughout the four years of medical school to ensure that students who graduate possess these qualities (Cohen 2006). Another strategy for ensuringprofessional behavior in doctors is to make certain that only those students who are likely to behave professionally are admitted to medical school (Cohen 2006; Stern et al. 2005). Most American medical schools interview candidates for admission as part of the selection process, the goal being to assess personal qualities and provide an indication of general fitness for practicing medicine. Applicants who meet academic and non-academic screening criteria stipulated by individual medical schools are invited for interviews. Interviewers rate and/or write comments in accordance with their impressions of candidates. Although the topics addressed and the specificity of information ascertained during interviews varies across institutions, most interviews are designed to gauge such attributes as motivation for medicine, commitment to serving others, and interpersonal skills (Elam, Studts and Johnson 1997).

Despite widespread recognition that non-cognitive or personal qualities are important to a candidate's ability to become a competent professional, most admissions processes do not produce quantifiable and reliable data on personal qualities that predict future success as a physician. Stern and his colleagues found no consistent, significant correlations between any materials from the admissions packet and the measures of professionalism they tracked in the clinical years (Stern et al. 2005). Efforts to develop new admissions tools that could accurately identify candidates who possess the desired non-cognitive traits associated with professional behavior are under way. A "multiple mini-interview" (mmi) developed at McMaster University consists of ten stations designed to provide information about a prospective medical student's non-cognitive qualities. …

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