Student Professionalism Policy

Policy ID Number: N/A
Policy Title: Student Professionalism
Classification: University
Approval Authority: COM EDAS Council
Responsible Entity: College of Medicine
Policy Owner: COM EDAS Council


1. Policy Statement

A medical school has primary responsibility for ensuring an environment that nurtures the professional development of future physicians and for effectively assessing the professionalism competency of the learners. In addition to acquiring foundational scientific knowledge, students must attain competency in professionalism. The College of Medicine Institutional Learning Objectives (ILOs) clearly define these expectations for the MD degree program. Effort is made to foster students’ professional growth and development throughout their enrollment. The college maintains a process for identifying and addressing unprofessional behavior.

2. Scope

College of Medicine students

3. Approval Authority

College of Medicine EDAS Council

4. Purpose of This Policy

This policy describes the professionalism competencies in the MD degree program, and establishes the procedures for reporting, tracking and addressing unprofessional behavior.

5. Who Should Be Knowledgeable about This Policy

College of Medicine Students
College of Medicine Teaching Faculty and Administrators

6. The Policy

College of Medicine Competencies and Institutional Learning Objectives (ILOs) for Professionalism and Personal and Professional Development

Professionalism: Students must demonstrate a commitment to professional and personal excellence in all settings, including adherence to ethical principles and sensitivity to a diverse patient population.

PR 1 Demonstrate honesty, integrity, respect, and compassion in all interactions with patients, peers, faculty, staff, and other health care professionals in all settings.
PR 2 Demonstrate ethical, patient‐centered decision‐making, informed consent, and respect for autonomy and confidentiality of patient information in all settings (i.e., clinical, academic, electronic or web‐based.)
PR 3 Demonstrate sensitivity and responsiveness to the personhood of the patient inclusive of culture, race, ethnicity, spirituality, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical characteristics, medical condition, disabilities, socioeconomic status, family‐context and other aspects of personal and health beliefs, practices and decisions.
PR 4 Demonstrate accountability for academic, patient care and professional responsibilities including concern for societal needs.
PR 5 Demonstrate responsiveness to patient needs that supersedes self‐interest.

Personal and Professional Development: Students must demonstrate the qualities required to sustain lifelong personal and professional growth.

PD 1 Acknowledge personal limitations and mistakes openly and honestly, seek and respond to feedback in a positive way, and demonstrate flexibility and maturity in adjusting one's behavior.
PD 2 Demonstrate strategies for analyzing, identifying and improving personal deficiencies in knowledge and skills by setting learning and improvement goals.
PD 3 Demonstrate a commitment to personal health and well‐being, and recognize and address personal attributes, attitudes, and behaviors that may adversely influence one’s effectiveness as a physician.
PD 4 Define professional impairment and describe the role and responsibility of health care professionals in addressing impairment and unprofessional behavior in colleagues and in the profession.
PD 5 Use self‐awareness and assessment data of one's knowledge, skills and attributes to identify appropriate career options.
PD 6 Recognize that ambiguity is part of clinical health care and respond by utilizing appropriate resources in dealing with uncertainty.

Students’ Professional Behavior

As professionalism is fundamental to the practice of medicine, medical students are expected to demonstrate exceptional professionalism and exhibit the highest standards of moral and ethical behavior at all times, in all settings and in all interactions.

Examples of Concerns
The following examples illustrate, but are not limited to, these types of unprofessional behavior that should be documented and reported:

• Disrespectful or inappropriate verbal or written communication.
• Disrespectful behavior toward students, faculty, staff, or patients.
• Absent without approval, misses deadlines, or is late for mandatory activities, for clinical duties, or submitting assignments.
• Falsifying medical documentation.
• Inappropriate use of cell phone and/or social media.
• Does not function adequately as a part of the health care team or as a part of their small group.
• Insensitive to the needs, feelings, and wishes of others.
• Defensive in the face of constructive criticism or resists making changes in their professional behavior.
• Engages in inappropriate relationships with patients, teachers, residents, or faculty, thereby disrupting the learning environment.
• Engages in disruptive behavior in the learning environment.
• Illegal behavior including, but not limited to, violation of patient confidentiality laws.

Procedure for the Documentation, Tracking, and Reporting of Unprofessional Conduct

To foster students’ professional growth and encourage high standards of professional behavior among students, the College of Medicine has adopted a feedback system to inform a student when his or her behavior has been deemed unprofessional. An incident that raises significant concerns about a medical student’s behavior should be documented using the Physicianship Evaluation Form, E*Value Concern Card, or an E*Value Learning Environment Card. An email notification may be submitted to the Associate Deans for Student Affairs as well. Any of these methods are appropriate to document unprofessional conduct.

E*Value Concern Card and an E*Value Learning Environment Card may be submitted anonymously by College of Medicine faculty, residents, staff, or students.

The Physicianship Evaluation Form is intended to provide students and faculty a formal opportunity to discuss perceived transgressions of professional behavior on the part of the student. Physicianship forms may be generated by administrators, faculty, residents, or staff. The form is not intended to be punitive, but rather to encourage self-assessment and improvement where needed to ensure positive professional growth.

Preclinical Studies Physicianship Form (PDF)

Clinical Studies Physicianship Form (PDF)

The Associate Deans for Student Affairs monitor the system, review all submissions, and take appropriate steps to address any concerns. Any submission that documents unprofessional conduct indicates that a student may need assistance and mentoring in developing their skills as a medical professional. It is expected that the reporting system will be used in good faith and will not be utilized to resolve personal disputes.

Tracking and Reporting

• In cases of professionalism infractions, a physicianship form, an E*Value Concern Card, an E*Value Learning Environment Card, or an email notification will be issued to the Office of Student Affairs with a summary of the incident(s). The student will be notified when a report of unprofessional conduct is filed; the student may be required to meet with the Associate Dean for Student Affairs.

• Failure to respond to and meet with the Office of Student Affairs in a timely manner constitutes an additional professionalism infraction.

• If a student receives three physicianship forms, and/or an E*Value Concern cards, and/or an E*Value Learning Environment Card, or note(s) of concern, the student will be referred to the Progress Committee.

• If an incident is determined to be egregious, the Office of Student Affairs should be informed immediately; at which point an Associate Dean for Student Affairs will meet with the student and/or conduct a review of the incident. The severity of the infraction will be determined by the Associate Dean and may result in immediate referral to the Progress Committee.

• See COM Progress, Promotion, and Probation Policy for additional information about the progress committee review process.

Referral for Unprofessional Behavior

When a pattern of concern about a student’s professional behavior is determined, either documented by the Physicianship Evaluation Form or through other communication to the Dean’s Office, the student will be referred to the Progress Committee (See the Student Progress, Promotion, Probation Policy). If the unprofessional behavior constitutes a breach of the MUSC Honor Code, the issue will be referred to the MUSC/COM Honor Council (See MUSC Honor Code). Some breaches of professionalism can result in separate referral to these entities for separate concerns.

7. Special situations


8. Sanctions for Non-compliance

As detailed in the policy, failure to meet the College of Medicine Professionalism standards can result in adverse actions and dismissal from the degree program.

9. Related Information

A. Reference, citations

COM Student Progress, Promotion, Probation Policy
MUSC Honor Code

B. Other

Enrolled students should contact the College of Medicine Associate Deans for Student Affairs for specific questions related to this policy.

C. Appendices

10. Communication Plan

The College of Medicine will publish the revised policy online in the College of Medicine education policies which is linked to the university bulletin. The policy is also included an online module that students are required to read and attest to each year.

11. Definitions


12. Review Cycle

Every two years at a minimum.

13. Approval History

Approval Authority Date Approved
EDAS Council July 25, 2018
Undergraduate Curriculum Committee June 16, 2017

14. Approval Signature

Donna Kern, MD Date: July 25, 2018
Title: Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education, College of Medicine