• Vol. 33 No. 6, 706–710
  • 15 November 2004

Teaching and Learning of Professionalism in Medical Schools



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Concerns about professionalism in medicine have made necessary the explicit teaching and learning of ethics, professionalism and personal development. The noble profession of medicine, taken up as a “calling” by those who are expected to put the needs of the patient above their own, appears to have become a fees-for-service business model and trade. Parental expectations, the diminishing sense of responsibility in teachers, lack of role models, technological advancements, sub-specialisation and third-party involvement in the healthcare delivery system have been identified as reasons for these concerns. The General Medical Council in the United Kingdom, and other professional bodies in both Europe and the Americas, have emphasised the need to enhance the teaching and learning of professionalism in medical schools, particularly the development of good attitudes, appropriate and competent skills, and the inculcation of a value system that reflects the tenets of professionalism in medicine. The medical curriculum will need to be scrutinised so as to introduce the subject of professionalism at all levels of training and education. Barriers to learning professionalism have been identified and students need to be equipped to resolve conflicts and to put the needs of others above their own.

There is now worldwide consensus that the elements of medical professionalism need to be enhanced and explicitly taught in medical schools. Medical schools in the United Kingdom (UK) have recently published a model for a core ethics curriculum.

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