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May 12, 2015

Undergraduate Medical Education and the Foundation of Physician Professionalism

Author Affiliations
  • 1Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington, DC
JAMA. 2015;313(18):1797-1798. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.4019

Professionalism is the demonstrated “commitment to carrying out professional responsibilities and an adherence to ethical principles”1 and is foundational to the practice of medicine—it is expected by physicians, the health care system, and patients alike. Developing competence in professionalism is a core expectation for a physician learner, no different from developing competence in medical knowledge. Critical to the formation of a physician’s professional identity, ensuring competence in professionalism requires the concerted efforts of many. Although there is current controversy regarding how diverse professional organizations should ensure professionalism among practicing physicians, during undergraduate medical education a shared governance model, as described below, provides the framework for developing and accessing this critical competency.

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