Strengthening the Culture of Professionalism is the Theme of RUSM Conference


(Left to right:) Dr. Weaver, Dr. Light, Dr. Mellish, Dr. Alexander, Dr. Selfridge, Ms. Hanson and Dr. Robins.

(Left to right:) Dr. Weaver, Dr. Light, Dr. Mellish, Dr. Alexander, Dr. Selfridge, Ms. Hanson and Dr. Robins.

Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) hosted an inaugural Professionalism Conference on May 23 and 24, 2014, with the first day geared to students, and the second to faculty. The event was designed as “an opportunity to learn more about how professionalism affects faculty and students, and the great impact it can have on future success,” said RUSM Senior Associate Dean Wm Lynn Weaver, MD, FACS. “It’s very important that students begin behaving as professionals from day one.”

The keynote speaker, Avarita L. Hanson, JD, is executive director of the Georgia Chief Justices Commission on Professionalism. Also on the program was her husband, Dr. William Alexander, who serves as the chief medical director of Amerigroup Georgia, overseeing the health care needs of the membership and serving as the principal medical manager of and policy advisor to the health plan. On the agenda were presentations of case studies, a department chairs’ panel discussion, and interactive sessions with the participation of RUSM faculty members.

“Students have to demonstrate professionalism as a competency before graduation,” Hanson said. “I read your student handbook. It’s all there. This is your personal roadmap for your institution. You have to know what’s in here, just like you need to know anatomy. I think it would be mirrored in the faculty handbook.” She stressed that, “You have to infuse professionalism into your curriculum and basic sciences, and everything you do. It involves a conscious effort. You have to be committed and effective. You have to create a culture of professionalism and it has to be maintained.”

Dr. Alexander spoke about, “strengthening the culture of professionalism” at RUSM. He presented the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation’s Medical Professionalism 10 commitments as a “roadmap” for behavior. For example, he pointed out that the professional responsibility “to maintain high standards for professional behavior even in times of stress” means that, “Your challenges are not your patients’ challenges; your burdens are not your patients’ burdens.” He noted that the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education’s (ACGME) Professionalism Assessment Tool linked to the ABIM’s 10 commitments, offering a good rubric that could be utilized to assess and guide behavior.

Among the issues discussed by the chairs’ panel were those pertaining to digital literacy and digital etiquette, such as inappropriate email messages, and professionalism in dress, and in faculty interaction with students, on-campus and off.