ABSTRACT: The Challenge of Promoting Professionalism Through Medical Ethics and Humanities Education
Given recent emphasis on professionalism training in medical schools by accrediting organizations, medical ethics and humanities educators need to develop a comprehensive understanding of this emphasis. To achieve this, the Project to Rebalance and Integrate Medical Education (PRIME) II Workshop (May 2011) enlisted representatives of the three major accreditation organizations to join with a national expert panel of medical educators in ethics, history, literature, and the visual arts. PRIME II faculty engaged in a dialogue on the future of professionalism in medical education. The authors present three overarching themes that resulted from the PRIME II discussions: transformation, question everything, and unity of vision and purpose.The first theme highlights that education toward professionalism requires transformational change, whereby medical ethics and humanities educators would make explicit the centrality of professionalism to the formation of physicians. The second theme emphasizes that the flourishing of professionalism must be based on first addressing the dysfunctional aspects of the current system of health care delivery and financing that undermine the goals of medical education. The third theme focuses on how ethics and humanities educators must have unity of vision and purpose in order to collaborate and identify how their disciplines advance professionalism. These themes should help shape discussions of the future of medical ethics and humanities teaching.The authors argue that improvement of the ethics and humanities-based knowledge, skills, and conduct that fosters professionalism should enhance patient care and be evaluated for its distinctive contributions to educational processes aimed at producing this outcome.