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24 Aug 2017

A Survey seeking doctors' views on medical student professionalism issues

Being professional can mean different things to different people. In particular, the public and professionals may place different values on the importance of various behaviours. For doctors, Good medical practice: a code of conduct for doctors in Australia, provides a comprehensive general guide. 

However, applying such guidance to particular issues and making judgements about the seriousness of unprofessional behaviours is often not straight forward.

In the case of medical students, the situation is even more confusing. 

They are developing professionals, but how important are their professional behaviours while a student? A national survey of Australian medical students in 2016 found that medical students have widely varying opinions on appropriate professional behaviours and students also commented on the inconsistencies in how medical schools address these issues.

Views are now being sought from qualified Australian doctors on the same scenarios that were posed to the medical students. You are teachers and role models for these students.

Are your value judgements different? If so, what are the differences? The survey asks you to assess issues such as: “If a behaviour is unacceptable, how unacceptable is it?” and “Does it matter if a student is first year or final year?”

The overall aim of the research program is to explore the variation in attitudes to professionalism issues for medical students, study the role of context in professionalism judgements and to identify areas of professionalism teaching that may require further development.

The views of qualified Australian doctors are simply essential to create a full understanding and we very much hope you will consider participating. The anonymous, online survey should take less than 10 minutes to complete; it can be accessed using the following link

If you have any questions about the survey, please contact Dr Paul McGurgan,

Dr Paul McGurgan is Professional and Personal Development Coordinator, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, UWA. 

The research team includes Dr Kiran Narula  (Fiona Stanley Hospital), Dr Katrina Calvert  (KEMH) and Dr Christine Jorm (Hon. Assoc. Professor & Assoc. Dean [Professionalism] Medical Education, University of Sydney).


Published: 24 Aug 2017