Opinion: Professionalism isn’t something medical students absorb. It must be taught

Educators in the health professions must adopt a more deliberate approach to teaching professionalism.

Today more than ever, we need physicians who are committed to the principles of professionalism. The principles themselves are well-established: physicians must be altruistic, always putting their patients’ interests first and above their own; they must be committed to lifelong learning; they must be responsible for the quality of care that they and their colleagues deliver; and they must advocate for the well-being not only of their own patients but also the population at large.

Yet medical educators haven’t always been methodical and diligent in teaching these tenets to the next generation of doctors. It isn’t difficult. It just requires an intentional focus on helping students build an ethical foundation that will let them balance competing needs and resolve moral dilemmas

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