Assessing students' professionalism: considering professionalism's diverging definitions

Aguilar, A.E., Stupans, L., and Scutter, S. (2011) Assessing students' professionalism: considering professionalism's diverging definitions. Education for Health, 24 (3). pp. 1-10.

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Abstract

Context: Although most health education programs assess students' professionalism, there is little clarity within the health education literature on the definition of professionalism. This makes assessment of students' professionalism a potentially flawed activity. This literature review clarifies professionalism by bringing together diverging definitions from across a number of health disciplines and discusses the complexities and limitations of these definitions.

Methods: A search was conducted within the medical and health science education literature to identify articles that discussed professionalism and its assessment. Theoretical, qualitative and empirical research were included in the review.

Findings: The literature variably defines professionalism as upholding professional values, as demonstrating professional attitudes or demonstrating professional behaviours. Each of these perspectives influences how professionalism is to be assessed, with each perspective having its own limitations. The behavioural perspective is simple to assess, but it has been criticised for being too superficial. The values perspective has the potential to develop professionals who are motivated by philanthropic values, but values can be difficult to identify and assess. Attitudes are complex in their structure, but they are less superficial than behaviours and can be assessed with attitudinal scales.

Conclusion: Health professions educators should ideally assess all three perspectives of professionalism, however, this may not be realistic given the already laden curricula and the demands on educators. Educators may decide to only assess one perspective and given its advantages, the attitudes perspective may be a useful starting point.

Item ID: 20983
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: assessment of professionalism, professional attitudes, professional behaviours, professional values, professionalism
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ISSN: 1469-5804
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2012 06:23
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130209 Medicine, Nursing and Health Curriculum and Pedagogy @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9299 Other Health > 929999 Health not elsewhere classified @ 50%
93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9302 Teaching and Instruction > 930202 Teacher and Instructor Development @ 50%
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