Monitoring Medical Students' Professional Attributes: Development of an Instrument and Process
Purpose: To describe and evaluate the implementation of an instrument and process to assess and monitor professional attributes in medical students.
Method: The instrument was developed following a survey of professional attributes of concern displayed by medical students. This was followed by development and validation, amongst medical faculty staff and students, of the instrument and its supporting process. Evaluation was by recording participation rates by staff and by determining the consistency of the instrument across dimensions and across clerkships. Implementation in practice is described by using a case study based on one school's first year of use amongst all the students.
Results: In its first year of use 7,418 forms were distributed to 376 students and 6,621 forms were returned (89%). The instrument's reliability was greatest where staff were diligent in ensuring thorough implementation. The process was able to detect students of concern and provide effective remediation and ongoing monitoring.
Conclusion: The process that has been developed is sensitive, robust and is able to detect, monitor and remedy attributes traditionally regarded as difficult to define and defend. The strengths of the process lie in (1) clear definitions of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors, (2) reliance on observations by more than one person and over more than a single time period, (3) the ability to provide a longitudinal view of student's progress.
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