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Becoming a Physician at UM SOM - Appendix 1: Definitions

Areas & Aspects* of HELPERS-PRO

General Principles, (A Definition of Medical Professionalism**), includes: physicians subordinate their own interests to the interests of others, physicians adhere to high ethical and moral standards, physicians respond to societal needs, and their behaviors reflect a social contract with the communities served, physicians evince core humanistic values, including honesty and integrity, caring and compassion, altruism and empathy, respect for others, and trustworthiness, physicians exercise accountability for themselves and for their colleagues, physicians demonstrate a continuing commitment to excellence, physicians exhibit a commitment to scholarship and to advancing their field, physicians deal with high levels of complexity and uncertainty, physicians reflect upon their actions and decisions.

Professionalism, includes: ability to communicate, accountability, altruism, appearance decency, demeanor, duty, excellence, following through with recommendations made to patients, honesty, honor, integrity, judgement, knowledge, language (appropriate), not impugning the reputation of others, putting the patient first, reporting colleagues’ errors, service (devotion to a lifetime of), skills, telling the truth.

Unprofessional Behavior, includes: abuse of power, in interactions with patients or colleagues, bias and sexual harassment, breach of confidentiality, arrogance, cheating, greed, misrepresentation, credentials and certifications, education and training, impairment, lack of conscientiousness, lying, conflicts of interest, self-referral, acceptance of gifts, over-utilization of services, collaboration with industry, compromising the principles of clinical investigation.

Humanism, includes: caring for patients' needs and psycho-social aspects, compassion, empathy.

Sensitivity, includes: age, culture, gender, socio-economic status, religion and spirituality, sexual orientation.

Ethical Behavior, includes: confidentiality, proper records, transfer of responsibility.

Ethics, includes: sexual misconduct and boundary violations, confidentiality, double-agency, fees, billing, reimbursement, ethical obligations under managed care structures.

Respect, includes: avoidance of exploitation (financial, sexual, self-aggrandizement), respect towards patients and family members, respect towards physician and non-physician colleagues.

Human Research, includes: aspects of human experimentation, treatment of research subjects.

Need for Life-long learning, includes: self-assessment, recognition of deficits in knowledge, skills or attitudes, re-mediation, life-long commitment to education (eg CME), use of evidence-based medical skills, using primary source reading.

Death & Dying, includes: pain, palliation, possibility of recovery.

Physician Impairment, includes: alcohol and drug impairment, other impairment of cognition, on call alertness.

Sexual-Aggressive Behavior, includes: body and mental boundaries, physical aggression, sexual harassment.

MD/Industry relationships, includes: AMA Guidelines, common sense, conflicts of interest when seeing patients, peer-reviewing research or articles.


*The aspects were adapted from:

(1) Project Professionalism. American Board of Internal Medicine, Phila, Penna 1997.

(2) Report on Professionalism in Undergraduate Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, May 2000, Ian Johnson, Chair.

(3) Oral and written communications with faculty members at the School of Medicine, University of Maryland, Baltimore and elsewhere (JHU, UC,D, U Colo, UNM, USIS).

** The definition was adapted from: Swick HM: Toward a Definition of Medical Professionalism. Academic Medicine 75:612-616, 2000