Can professionalism be taught?

Ian M Symonds and Nicholas J Talley
Med J Aust 2013; 199 (6): . || doi: 10.5694/mja13.10656
Published online: 16 September 2013

Yes, but a more strategic approach should replace didactic methods

Public confidence in professional standards in medicine has not only been undermined by high-profile scandals such as those in Alder Hey, Bristol and Bundaberg, but also by the failure of the profession to identify and discipline its errant members. Doctors who are subject to disciplinary action are three times as likely as their peers (95% CI, 1.9–4.8) to have been identified as having behavioural problems as medical students.1 Medical program developers have increasingly tried to include teaching on “professionalism” in undergraduate curricula,2 and yet, as Birden and Usherwood report in this issue of the Journal, students have a low regard for the way in which this is done.3

  • Ian M Symonds1,2
  • Nicholas J Talley1

  • 1 Faculty of Health and Medicine, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW.
  • 2 Joint Medical Program, University of Newcastle and University of New England, NSW.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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