Unprofessional behavior by specialty: a qualitative analysis of six years of student perceptions of medical school faculty

Med Teach. 2014 Jul;36(7):621-5. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2014.899690. Epub 2014 May 2.


Background: Unprofessional behavior has well documented negative effects both on the clinical care environment and on the learning environment. If unprofessional behavior varies by department or specialty, this has implications both for faculty development and for undergraduate and graduate level training.

Aims: We sought to learn which unprofessional behaviors were endemic in our school, and which were unique to particular departments.

Methods: Students graduating from medical school between 2007 and 2012 were asked to complete a questionnaire naming the most professional and least professional faculty members they encountered in during school. For the least professional faculty members, they were also asked to provide information about the unprofessional behavior.

Results: Students noted several types of unprofessional behavior regardless of the department faculty were in; however, there were some behaviors only noted in individual departments. The unprofessional behavior profiles for Surgery and Obstetrics/Gynecology were markedly similar, and were substantially different from all other specialties.

Conclusion: Undergraduate, graduate, and faculty education focused on unprofessional behavior that may occur in various learning environments may provide a feasible, practical, and an effective approach to creating a culture of professional behavior throughout the organization.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Faculty, Medical / standards*
  • Humans
  • Professional Competence / standards*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Schools, Medical
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires