The concept of professionalism can be understood as the outward display of the norms, ideals, and ethics of a professional group. These behaviors are discipline specific and often difficult to evaluate objectively. However, accurate and reproducible, quantitative assessment of professionalism is a critical task in health care education for two reasons.
The first is that professionalism is a curriculum component mandated by many health care education accrediting bodies. This necessitates formal assessment of professionalism as a learning outcome. The second reason is that health care education reaches into real-world environments more deeply than any other type of teaching. This obligates the health care educator to evaluate professional behavior among students and trainees in order to maintain the integrity of the institution's dual role as a teaching and care-giving facility.
The Professionalism Assessment Tool (PAT) was developed to address the need for assessment of professionalism in clinical health care education. This tool is derived from the Professionalism Assessment Form developed by the American Association of Medical Colleagues (AAMC) for medical students. The PAT, however, is applicable to students of any discipline in a clinical environment and makes possible evaluation of eleven performance standards that reside within the domains of integrity, communication, demeanor and respect. Scoring of the standards is based on a unique 60 to 100 to 60 scale with descriptive text prompts for each. The ideal of professional behavior is described at the "100" score level for each performance standard. Deviations from the ideal are described on each side of the 100 score level. It is not expected that students have achieved ideal performance for all standards. The rater can either circle the appropriate score or insert a numeric score that lies between the five point intervals along the green bar. The goal of the PAT is to help standardize the expectations of professionalism across all UMMC schools, professions and curricula. Questions regarding this assessment tool may be directed to the Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities at (601) 815-4964.
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