Assessing Professionalism: A theoretical framework for defining clinical rotation assessment criteria

Armitage-Chan, E (2016) Assessing Professionalism: A theoretical framework for defining clinical rotation assessment criteria. JOURNAL OF VETERINARY MEDICAL EDUCATION, 43 (4). pp. 364-371.

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Although widely accepted as an important graduate competence, professionalism is a challenging outcome to define and assess. Clinical rotations provide an excellent opportunity to develop student professionalism through the use of experiential learning and effective feedback, but without appropriate theoretical frameworks, clinical teachers may find it difficult to identify appropriate learning outcomes. The adage “I know it when I see it” is unhelpful in providing feedback and guidance for student improvement, and criteria that are more specifically defined would help students direct their own development. This study sought first to identify how clinical faculty in one institution currently assess professionalism, using retrospective analysis of material obtained in undergraduate teaching and faculty development sessions. Subsequently, a faculty workshop was held in which a round-table type discussion sought to develop these ideas and identify how professionalism assessment could be improved. The output of this session was a theoretical framework for teaching and assessing professionalism, providing example assessment criteria and ideas for clinical teaching. This includes categories such as client and colleague interaction, respect and trust, recognition of limitations, and understanding of different professional identities. Each category includes detailed descriptions of the knowledge, skills, and behaviors expected of students in these areas. The criteria were determined by engaging faculty in the development of the framework, and therefore they should represent a focused development of criteria already used to assess professionalism, and not a novel and unfamiliar set of assessment guidelines. The faculty-led nature of this framework is expected to facilitate implementation in clinical teaching.

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