Opinion: Medical students definitely need to learn professionalism. But can it be taught?

Teaching medical students about professionalism will require capturing imaginations and sharpening iron. It will look less like a lecture and more like a friendship.
Plato (left) and Aristotle both struggled with the question, "Can virtue be taught?" Medical educators are struggling with something similar: "Can professionalism be taught?" Source: Picture Post/Getty Images

In a recent First Opinion, David Rothman spotlights the challenge of teaching professionalism in today’s medical schools. As president of the Institute on Medicine as a Profession, Rothman brings a needed attention to the necessity of professionalism education, of providing small grants for professionalism forums, and the power of faculty influence — among other practical suggestions. He argues that teaching professionalism isn’t necessarily difficult, it just requires intentionally:

“Today more than ever, we need physicians who are committed to the principles of professionalism. The principles themselves are well-established … Yet medical educators haven’t always been methodical and diligent in teaching these tenets to the next generation

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