Defining professionalism in medical education: a systematic review

Med Teach. 2014 Jan;36(1):47-61. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2014.850154. Epub 2013 Nov 19.


Introduction: We undertook a systematic review and narrative synthesis of the literature to identify how professionalism is defined in the medical education literature.

Methods: Eligible studies included any articles published between 1999 and 2009 inclusive presenting viewpoints, opinions, or empirical research on defining medical professionalism.

Results: We identified 195 papers on the topic of definition of professionalism in medicine. Of these, we rated 26 as high quality and included these in the narrative synthesis.

Conclusion: As yet there is no overarching conceptual context of medical professionalism that is universally agreed upon. The continually shifting nature of the organizational and social milieu in which medicine operates creates a dynamic situation where no definition has yet taken hold as definitive.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Education, Medical / methods
  • Education, Medical / standards*
  • Education, Professional / methods
  • Education, Professional / standards
  • Ethics, Medical / education*
  • Humans
  • Professional Competence / standards*
  • Professional Role*