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Becoming a Physician at UM SOM - Overview

Becoming A Physician: Helpers-Pro

Preliminary Report on the Inclusion and Development in the School of Medicine Curriculum of the Issues of Professionalism, Respect for Patients, Families and Colleagues, Death and Dying, Impairment, Sexual and Aggressive Behavior, Physician/Industry relationships, Humanism, Ethics, Life-long Learning, Physicians subordinating themselves to their patients, Ethical behavior, Research subjects, and Sensitivity to age, culture, disability, diversity and gender. 

It is my conclusion that during the four years of medical school at the University of Maryland, all of the aspects that we usually think of as comprising the areas of "Professionalism, Respect for Patients, Families and Colleagues, Other (Death and Dying, Impairment, Sexual and Aggressive Behavior and Physician/Industry relationships), Families - Humanism, Ethics, Life-long Learning, Physicians subordinating themselves to their patients, Ethical behavior, Research subjects, Sensitivity to age, culture, disability, diversity and gender" (HELPERS-PRO) are covered to some extent or other. What is missing is: (1) the identification of applicants in the Admissions Process who do or do not embody these qualities, (2) the inclusion in all courses and rotations of all aspects that could be included, (3) a process of continuing emphasis on these areas throughout the four years, (4) an attempt to have a graded, step-wise addressing of aspects of these areas as students mature and progress, and (5) a method of evaluation. In this report, I will summarize the results of my interviews with faculty and students with regard to what we now include, what we could include and what further needs to be done.

Background

This report on the School of Medicine's activities in these areas was prompted by several events:

  • The initiative of the Dean in examining and redesigning our efforts in Professionalism.
  • The concern of the leadership that we might not be addressing all of the HELPERS-PRO issues comprehensively or effectively.
  • The concern on the part of the public, as often conveyed in the press, that as a profession we are not turning out humane physicians.
  • The data from visits to practitioners of complementary/alternative medicine showing that we are not communicating well with patients (e.g. 70 % of persons pay out of pocket because they think/feel they are more listened to, have more time and receive more care.)
  • The data from AHA and UMMS surveys that two of the three top areas of concern to patients are doctor-patient communication and patient privacy.
  • The perception on the part of many faculty members that students in the last 3-5 years have become less professional, less team-oriented, less conscientious about attendance, less work-oriented and more hedonistic/entitled as well as focused on grades rather than on learning.
  • The self-disclosed information on the Humanism in Medicine Website, and
  • The section from the Strategic Plan 2001-2005 which stated:

    GOAL 2: Develop and nurture professionalism and encourage mutual respect among students, staff and faculty. 

    OBJECTIVE 1: Reinforce to students early and often about their responsibilities as future health care professionals.

    Strategy 1: Host a program at the end of the sophomore year reaffirming the values discussed at the White Coat Ceremony.

    Strategy 2: Create a longitudinal curriculum in professionalism, ethics and cultural awareness.

    Strategy 3: Develop interdisciplinary programs that allow students in each of the health sciences to interact with one another.

    Strategy 4: Evaluate and provide feedback to students annually on their academic and professional development.

    Strategy 5: Ensure that awards given at graduation emphasize professionalism and ethical conduct.