Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 22, Issue 11, pp 1514–1522

Caring Attitudes in Medical Education: Perceptions of Deans and Curriculum Leaders

  • Beth A. Lown
  • Calvin L. Chou
  • William D. Clark
  • Paul Haidet
  • Maysel Kemp White
  • Edward Krupat
  • Stephen Pelletier
  • Peter Weissmann
  • M. Brownell Anderson
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11606-007-0318-x

Cite this article as:
Lown, B.A., Chou, C.L., Clark, W.D. et al. J GEN INTERN MED (2007) 22: 1514. doi:10.1007/s11606-007-0318-x

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Systems of undergraduate medical education and patient care can create barriers to fostering caring attitudes.

OBJECTIVE

The aim of this study is to survey associate deans and curriculum leaders about teaching and assessment of caring attitudes in their medical schools.

PARTICIPANTS

The participants of this study include 134 leaders of medical education in the USA and Canada.

METHODS

We developed a survey with 26 quantitative questions and 1 open-ended question. In September to October 2005, the Association of American Medical Colleges distributed it electronically to curricular leaders. We used descriptive statistics to analyze quantitative data, and the constant comparison technique for qualitative analysis.

RESULTS

We received 73 responses from 134 medical schools. Most respondents believed that their schools strongly emphasized caring attitudes. At the same time, 35% thought caring attitudes were emphasized less than scientific knowledge. Frequently used methods to teach caring attitudes included small-group discussion and didactics in the preclinical years, role modeling and mentoring in the clinical years, and skills training with feedback throughout all years. Barriers to fostering caring attitudes included time and productivity pressures and lack of faculty development. Respondents with supportive learning environments were more likely to screen applicants’ caring attitudes, encourage collaborative learning, give humanism awards to faculty, and provide faculty development that emphasized teaching of caring attitudes.

CONCLUSIONS

The majority of educational leaders value caring attitudes, but overall, educational systems inconsistently foster them. Schools may facilitate caring learning environments by providing faculty development and support, by assessing students and applicants for caring attitudes, and by encouraging collaboration.

KEY WORDS

caring attitudesmedical educationhidden curriculumprofessionalism

Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Beth A. Lown
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Calvin L. Chou
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • William D. Clark
    • 1
    • 3
  • Paul Haidet
    • 3
    • 6
    • 7
  • Maysel Kemp White
    • 3
    • 8
  • Edward Krupat
    • 1
    • 3
  • Stephen Pelletier
    • 1
  • Peter Weissmann
    • 3
    • 9
    • 10
  • M. Brownell Anderson
    • 11
  1. 1.Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of MedicineMount Auburn HospitalCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.American Academy on Communication in HealthcareChesterfieldUSA
  4. 4.University of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA
  5. 5.Veterans Administration Medical CenterSan FranciscoUSA
  6. 6.Baylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA
  7. 7.Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical CenterHoustonUSA
  8. 8.Healthcare Quality and Communication Improvement, LLCChesterUSA
  9. 9.University of Minnesota Medical SchoolMinneapolisUSA
  10. 10.Hennepin County Medical CenterMinneapolisUSA
  11. 11.The Association of American Medical CollegesWashingtonUSA