Importance of medical professionalism

The number of applicants enrolling in medical schools is increasing year by year, and in each year, a large group of medical student graduates joins medical institutions to practice medicine. Qualifications to graduating require a student to exhibit topnotch skills and knowledge that equipped throughout the course work. But despite demonstrating these skills and expertise, medical professionalism must be displayed in the workplace. Medical professionalism, together with demonstrating skills and knowledge, has been shown to increase patient health care outcomes and improve on the physician-patient relationship. Medical professionalism defined as a belief system in which medical practitioners declare their competency standards and ethical values. This declaration is made when medical students state their vows as they graduate, by promising to uphold the set values, behaviours, and relationships in their work, which also strengthens the trust the public has on healthcare providers(McNicol, 2018). The characteristics expected of a medical professional include integrity, altruism, compassion, continuous improvement, excellence, honesty, duty, honor, accountability, respectability, empathy, responsibility, respect, expertise, ability to work with other professionals, self-regulation, ability to understand restrictions and lastly zeal to better their skills and knowledge(Jonsen, 2016). Thus there is a need to introduce the use of a medical professionalism curriculum taught within the schools and one to allow for continuous education within medical institutions to ensure quality health care standard. The lack of a defined medical professionalism curriculum within the medical institutions and medical schools has brought chaos into the welfare of the community, resulting in poor health outcomes. Usually, medical professionalism is in the form of a hidden curriculum that is ignored, taken lightly and not embraced by the healthcare providers. These had led to; lack of accountability by the physicians to the patients; lack of respect among physicians due to clashes and conflicts created in the workspace; discrimination by physicians towards some patients while providing services; and lastly increased financial greed that exceeds the patients’ interests(Kebede, 2018)

Not only does the lack of a defined medical professionalism curriculum lead to poor health outcomes, but it also brings about the occurrence of medical errors. Medical errors are brought about by a lack of communication flow between the healthcare providers. Lack of a defined medical professional curriculum also results in a lack of teamwork among healthcare providers decreasing the standards of healthcare service and finally leads to a lack of public trust towards the medical profession. The impact of the changes displayed to the public eye by the media influences healthcare providers to show accountability in their job. Thus the need to revise the medical professionalism curriculum to ensure the provision of personalized, comprehensive and highest quality care to the patients and the public at large. This research paper will delve into the importance of a medical professionalism curriculum within our medical institutions and schools, and also explore the current methods being used to teach medical students and healthcare professionals on medical professionalism.

Research question.

What are the current methods used to teach medical professionalism within medical schools and medical institutions?


This study aims to evaluate the importance of medical professionalism in the present-day and its significance in the medical careers of health care providers.


  • To help medical students build and shape into their professional identity.
  • To instil the methods obtained in the findings within schools and medical institutions.


To modern society

The advantages of medical professionalism. It improves patient care by ensuring patient safety by reducing the incidences of medical errors that can have detrimental effects. Also, it ensures that quality health care is provided by ensuring that healthcare providers are focused mainly on the patients’ needs. It also improves patient satisfaction and recovers the physician-patient relationship. Furthermore, it allows patients to entrust in the advice given by their physicians and lastly it will enable patients to access the clinic freely(Oxford, 2019). The free assessment of clinical care will allow patients and the public to visit the hospital frequently without fear of negligence by the healthcare providers.

In physicians’ medical careers

Medical professionalism has allowed for the development of communication skills(Franco et al., 2018). The development of communication skills will enable physicians to navigate conflicts amongst themselves that have facilitated teamwork, and among patients that have facilitated excellent doctor-patient communication. Also, it has allowed for the development of clinical knowledge through enhanced research and innovation that has helped improve healthcare standards. Moreover, healthcare providers can have successful careers by establishing honest relationships with their patients, colleagues, and supervisors.

Furthermore, medical professionalism has facilitated physicians to be accountable to the patients, thus offering good healthcare. When healthcare providers show accountability to their patients, they then dare to advocate the national government for healthcare rights, in the form of delivery of medications to the medical institutions at an affordable cost and the distribution of machines and equipment within these facilities. Moreover, medical professionalism allows physicians to practice patient-centred care and not merely on their self-interests through financial gains. Lastly, it will enable medics to practice good bedside manners in the way they communicate and dress in front of their patients and their relatives or friends.


The methods used in teaching professionalism include;

  1. The introduction of a formal well-structured curriculum with policies(Musick, 2016). The development of a core curriculum should be practical rather than theoretical, as introducing this to the existing medical curriculum will increase the workload of students. The teaching will enable medical students to understand the origins and responsibilities of professionalism. There should be a list of expected values and principles, whereby failure to adhere to the values and principles results in consequences. Once done, an assessment is done to ensure that the students understand the concept, and this should be demonstrated in their work and willingness to continue to develop their skills. The values and principles include showing dedication to professional proficiency. Other policies include; devotion to maintain integrity with patients; obligation in maintaining patient confidentiality; adherence to sustaining appropriate relations with patients; responsibility towards refining the quality and access of care; allegiance to a just issuance of scarce or limited resources; and lastly taking charge by managing conflicts of interests that result in the workplace(Barone, 2019). Conflicts of interests can occur among healthcare professionals or between healthcare professionals and patients. No matter the team involved, healthcare providers should ensure that the medical institution is a safe working space.
  2. The teaching of non-cognitive skills using the Dreyfus adult skill acquisition model(Patterson, 2017). It is a model whereby learners acquire skills through formal instruction and practising. The model proposes that a medical student qualifies in the five developmental stages. They include novice, competence, proficiency, expertise, and mastery.

iii.    Use of cinema education. It involves the use of movies that are viewed in a controlled environment that enables the students to explore values and attitudes without compromising their integrity in an actual setup. The use of film enhances learning and motivates the applicability of professionalism.

  1. Use of drama and theatre. The use of theatrical performance also has been shown to improve knowledge as it an appealing form of administering lectures rather than the old traditional ways example note taking(Jafine, 2018). It allows students to incorporate the skills required of them through active participation in the theatrics.
  2. Observing the doctors in hospital wards. It is made possible through the active involvement of the medical students in ward rounds that has been shown to provide for teaching and learning opportunities. It allows them to learn and visualize effective bedside manners and how to practice examination skills that ensure maximum comfortability to the patient.
  3. Good role modelling, mentoring and networking. Despite this method losing its effectiveness, it is a formal delivery method essential in fostering professionalism education (Sivaranjani, 2019). To ensure that the above techniques are effectively utilized and understood by medical students and health care providers, assessment is necessary. The evaluation of medical professionalism drives learning. For medical students, the use of written tests and multiple choice questions forms the basis of the review. For health care providers, evaluation achieved by patient satisfaction reports, mini-clinical examination, standardized patient feedback, and standardized direct observation assessment.

Educational tools can be used to ensure delivery of information, and it involves the use of;

  1. a) Interactive lectures. It allows for engagement and accountability, enables instructors to access the level of understanding of the medical students present; and promotes student retention and learning on medical professionalism.
  2. b) Use of case vignettes, which are patient-related cases that participants in a conference or classroom, are allowed to respond by sharing their perceptions, values, and impressions.
  3. c) Use of simulations. Simulations defined as instructional scenarios. It is where an instructor places a student in a world defined by control parameters. It is used to gauge the understanding of the student and allows the student to get to engage in deep learning and to internalize the knowledge provided.
  4. d) Experiential learning(Sheng, 2018). It is the process of learning through experience where medical students are allowed to participate in medical ward rounds and allowed to interact with the patients directly.
  5. e) Dependent and independent learning.
  6. f) Reflective exercises where the medical student and healthcare providers are permitted to have individualized reflections on professional issues or reflections(Ramnanan, 2017). It allows for the healthcare providers to share their experiences, and it is by these experiences that medical students get to reflect and learn.


As seen in the research above, the teaching of medical professionalism is a crucial factor, and its implementation will not only improve the competency of the medical professionals, but it will also lead to improved healthcare outcomes. There is a need, therefore, to implement these methods in the medical curriculum, where medical professionalism should no longer be a hidden curriculum but a transparent and formal curriculum with clear codes of conduct, values, and principles. Not only should it be in the curriculum, but there should be an assessment tool guide that ensures deep learning and mastery of content. Finally, there should be systems in place that curbs unacceptable behavior. These could be in the form of fines and penalties to the healthcare providers and school suspensions to medical students due to failure to adhere to the set values, principles and standards.


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