Professionalism is the basis of medicine’s contract with society. It demands placing the interests of patients above those of the physician, setting and maintaining standards of competence and integrity, and providing expert advice to society on matters of health.
UT Southwestern Medical School is committed to developing future physicians who demonstrate professional behaviors and responsibilities. Principles and expected behaviors based upon Medical Professionalism in the New Millennium: A Physician Charter are described in the Professionalism Policy and presented to students upon matriculation to Medical School in the form of the Medical Student Code of Professional Conduct. Each student signs the code acknowledging the understanding of their new role as a medical professional.
Through the educational activities, ethical discussions, and mentorship provided in the Academic Colleges, faculty mentors counsel, demonstrate, and model techniques for understanding and managing complex human behavior and ethical issues that are a daily part of the care of patients. Clinical faculty members on the various clerkship rotations continue this mentorship, instruction, and role modeling during the clinical years.
Behaviors related to professionalism are assessed early and monitored throughout the Medical School curriculum, and a mechanism is in place to provide appropriate feedback and guidance to students who have difficulty. The goal is to address and prevent future problematic behaviors through an appropriate remediation plan.
Three physicianship forms serve as mechanisms to identify and address students with problematic behavior:
- Physicianship Evaluation Form for the Pre-Clerkship Period
- Physicianship Evaluation Form for the Clerkship and Post-Clerkship Periods
- Institutional Physicianship Evaluation Form
Students will be expected to demonstrate achievement of this very important competency prior to receiving the Doctor of Medicine degree. The policy also addresses the unlikely event that a student is unable to master these important skills that are critical to the care of patients and maintenance of society’s trust.