ABSTRACT: Fostering professionalism among doctors: the role of workplace discussion groups
The professionalism of doctors has come in for increasing scrutiny and discussion, within the profession and in society. Professionalism has also become of central interest in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education. There is a great deal of debate about the nature of medical professionalism, how to promote it and what approaches to learning are most effective.
This study aims to identify the role of workplace-based discussion groups in encouraging and supporting the development of professionalism among doctors.
Workplace-based discussion groups including doctors from all non-consultant grades and specialties were established in five hospitals over a 6 month period in 2010-2011. A mixed-methods approach was used to identify the perceived impact of these groups on participants, which included interviewing the group facilitators and education leaders at participating hospitals.
Understanding of professionalism at an individual level was improved along with an increased awareness of the collective nature of professionalism in everyday clinical practice. Key to the success of the groups was the creation of a legitimate space to explore professionalism and professional challenges and the use of experienced facilitators who could build trust in the groups.
A purely individualistic approach to professionalism does not resonate with contemporary, team-based healthcare. Work-based groups can provide a focus for an approach to professionalism that is mindful of self, the team, the culture and the organisation. This evaluation provides guidance to a range of stakeholders on how to develop educational interventions that foster professionalism, personal and collective, and offers some pointers towards the range of factors that may impact on the outcomes of such activities.