Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics

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COMSEP 2010 Albuquerque Meeting

CHARACTER: A MNEMONIC FOR EVALUATING PROFESSIONALISM

Authors:
Virginia . Niebuhr, PhD; Judith Rowen, MD, Pediatrics, Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX

 

Problem and Goal: Faculty are required to evaluate learner’s professional competency; and often learners are expected to evaluate faculty professionalism. We believe it is inappropriate to globally evaluate “professionalism” but instead important to identify specific component behaviors and attitudes. Our goal was to develop a strategy to help evaluators more precisely evaluate professionalism.  Preparation: We identified who needs to evaluate professionalism:  students, residents, faculty, and community preceptors.  We studied the Physician Charter of 2002, ACGME guidelines, Gold Foundation resources, published work on professionalism in medical education, and our institution’s Professionalism Charter. Methods: We created the CHARACTER acronym: Compassion  (empathy; awareness of others’ feelings, Honesty  (truthfulness, admission of mistakes),  Altruism (unselfish concern for welfare of others), Responsibility (for conduct, work, self-improvement), Aiming for excellence (in self, others, and the healthcare system), Confidentiality, Teamwork, Ethical approach, Respect  (for patients/families, peers, team members  and faculty; and including respect for diversity). Using a variety of modes, we have shared the acronym with faculty, learners, and preceptors. For our residency program, a curriculum is wrapped around the CHARACTER acronym.  The Pediatric Professionalism Series, nine web-based modules delivered through Blackboard, each with readings and activities for each letter and a final Observation-Reflection activity, is used as a monthly Interns’ Professionalism Conversation and has been used as a special curriculum for residents-of-concern.  For faculty, we have conducted workshops and seminars and have distributed laminated pocketcards.  For community preceptors teaching our students, an online module has been developed to present CHARACTEREffectiveness: Development costs have been time, not dollars. With Blackboard, we can track access and module completion.  At the completion of the nine conversations, we will survey on perceptions of value and ability to identify the nine elements.  Using institution-wide rotation-end evaluation tools, we can examine comments on professionalism to test the hypothesis that those exposed to CHARACTER will include comments rich with references to the nine components. Discussion: We believe the CHARACTER acronym is a useful mnemonic for those needing to evaluate the very broad domain of Professionalism. CHARACTER promotes both self-reflection and more precise evaluation of others.