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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Resident perspectives on professionalism lack common consensus

Christine S Cho, Eva M Delgado, Frances K Barg, Jill C Posner
Annals of Emergency Medicine 2014, 63 (1): 61-7
23948747

STUDY OBJECTIVE: We sought to characterize and understand the residents' perspective on how professionalism develops through pediatric emergency medicine experiences.

METHODS: Qualitative methods (freelisting--listing words associated with professionalism--and semistructured interviews) were conducted with senior emergency medicine and pediatric residents about their experiences rotating in the emergency department of a large, urban, tertiary care, freestanding children's hospital. All senior residents were eligible, with purposive sampling to maximize demographic variability. Saliency (importance) of words was analyzed with Smith S scores and consensus analysis. Interviews were conducted until content saturation was achieved; transcripts were coded by independent investigators to reach thematic consensus.

RESULTS: Twenty-five interviews (36% emergency, 64% pediatrics) were conducted. Common words associated with professionalism were "respect," "compassion," "empathy," and "integrity"; however, residents did not share a common consensus. The framework for how residents described the development of their professionalism includes observations, interactions, and environment. Examples include resident observation of role models; interactions with patients, families, and coworkers; self-reflection; and the unique environment of the ED. Residents believed that role modeling was the most influential factor. Few reported receiving sufficient observation by attending physicians during their interactions with patients and most reported receiving little direct feedback on their professionalism. Residents' descriptions of professionalism crossed multiple Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) competencies.

CONCLUSION: Residents displayed high variability in their understanding of professionalism, which was frequently at variance with the corresponding ACGME competency definition. The resident perspective and understanding of professionalism may usefully inform refinements in ACGME milestones and entrustable professional activities.

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