Acad Med. 2023 Jun 27. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000005308. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: This study examines how internal medicine clerkship faculty and leadership conceptualize professionalism and professional behaviors and attitudes, identifies whether and how faculty use metrics to assess professionalism and factor it into clerkship grades, and describes barriers that prevent faculty from feeling prepared to support the development of professional behaviors in students.
METHOD: The Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine opened a call for thematic survey section proposals to its physician-faculty members, blind-reviewed all submissions, and selected 4 based on internal medicine clinical clerkship training experience relevance. The survey launched on October 5 and closed on December 7, 2021. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics.
RESULTS: Of 137 core clerkship directors (CDs) at Liaison Committee on Medical Education-accredited medical schools, 103 (75.2%) responded to the survey. Of 102 respondents (1 nonrespondent), 84 (82.4%) identified professional behavior lapses in involvement and 60 (58.8%) identified introspection lapses. Of 103 respondents, 97 (94.2%) reported that their clerkships ask clinical faculty and residents to formally evaluate professionalism, and 64 (62.1%) reported that they factor professionalism assessments into final clerkship grades. CDs reported multiple barriers to addressing professionalism directly with students, including logistical barriers, professionalism assessment subjectivity concerns, and the possible adverse effect of an unprofessional label for students.
CONCLUSIONS: Professionalism assessment and remediation in medical education currently center on a deficit model that seeks to identify and remediate professionalism lapses, rather than a developmental model that seeks to nurture growth. This dichotomous characterization of behaviors as professional or unprofessional limits assessment and can adversely affect the learning environment. The authors propose a shift to a developmental model that considers professionalism as a continuous process parallel to the acquisition of clinical skills and medical knowledge.