Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics


Search This Site

COMSEP Meeting in Ottawa, ON

Platform Presentation:

A qualitative analysis of student-mentor appreciative inquiry dialogues to explore how exemplary professionalism is conceptualized

Lavjay Butani,University of California, Davis, School of Medicine,Sacramento,CA,Jennifer . Plant,University of California Davis. School of Medicine,Sacramento,CA


Professionalism is a fluid construct that is open to interpretation based on a multitude of factors (1). While much is known about the experiences of students related to unprofessional behaviors, how exemplary professionalism is conceptualized is not well studied. As part of our clerkship 3rd year medical students interview mentors, using appreciative inquiry (AI) (2), about exceptional instances of professionalism and submit a narrative describing the interview and their reflection.


To explore how exemplary professional values and behaviors are conceptualized by student-mentor dyads.


Student-mentor dyads conceptualized exemplary professionalism as involving excellence (adaptive expertise) and accountability (community advocacy). Such behaviors were typically demonstrated during daily challenges (value conflicts, emotional/physical exhaustion) and inherently involved altruism. The most important facilitator for professional action was having humanistic values (seeing patients as people), which were grounded in one's upbringing, were cultivable through mentorship and reflective practice and were positively reinforced by emotional connections with patients. Other facilitators were extrinsic motivators (expressions of gratitude from patients) and emotional intelligence (EI) skills (such as optimism). Self-humanism (grounding oneself in other activities) was a critical factor that allowed professionals to achieve work-life balance/integration and sustain professionalism.


Humanistic values, which can be cultivated, are key motivators of exemplary professional behaviors. EI skills and a supportive environment that facilitates reflection and allows learners to become emotionally invested in patients are potential areas where curricular and practice changes can promote professionalism and prevent burnout.