Assessment of matriculating medical students’ knowledge and attitudes towards professionalism
Background: Students? perceptions of traditional attributes of professionalism are important for understanding their professional development needs, and determining appropriate curricular initiatives and assessment methods. Aim: This study assessed the knowledge and attitudes towards professionalism of three classes of matriculating students at two institutions. Methods: Subjects completed four instruments: a multiple-choice test and a clinical scenario instrument assessed knowledge; and a semantic differential scale and Likert-format statement instrument assessed attitudes. Items reflected traditional professionalism attributes. Factor analysis identified scales and descriptive statistics were computed for each scale. Results: Six hundred and forty six students (82%) completed the instruments. Correlations among scales were low to moderate. Knowledge scores were highest for the attributes ?humanism? and ?professional responsibility? and lowest for the attribute ?professional commitment?. Attitude scores were highest for ?humanistic values? and lowest for ?subordinating self-interests?. Conclusions: Results indicate students? attitudes are positive about several of the attributes associated with traditional professionalism definitions; however, there were cases where students? knowledge and attitudes towards professionalism appear incongruent with traditional definitions. Further development of self-assessments of knowledge and attitudes towards professionalism are suggested.