Professionalism in Pathology: A Case-Based Approach as a Potential Educational Tool

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2017 Feb;141(2):215-219. doi: 10.5858/arpa.2016-0217-CP. Epub 2016 Oct 20.


Context: -Professionalism issues in residency training can be difficult to assess and manage. Generational or role-based differences may also exist between faculty and residents as to what constitutes unprofessional behavior and how to manage it.

Objective: -To examine and compare how faculty and residents would approach the same 5 case scenarios detailing various aspects of unprofessional behavior.

Design: -Five case scenarios highlighting various unprofessional behaviors were presented in a workshop at an annual meeting of pathology department chairs, residency program directors, and undergraduate pathology medical educators (ie, pathologists involved in medical student pathology education). The same cases were presented to a cohort of pathology residents currently in training. A standard set of responses were offered to the participants, polling results were collected electronically, and results were compared.

Results: -Faculty and residents were fairly consistent within their respective groups. In a subset of cases, faculty were more likely to favor working with the individual in the scenario, whereas resident respondents were more likely to favor either no response or a severe response. Generational or role-based differences were also potentially evident.

Conclusions: -Assessing expectations and differences around professionalism for both faculty and residents should be considered as part of any educational and management approach for professionalism. Although a level of generational differences appears to be evident in this study regarding the recognition and management of unprofessional behavior, there was also agreement in some cases. Further exploration into the discrepant responses between faculty and residents may prove useful in developing educational, assessment, and remediation resources.

MeSH terms

  • Education, Medical, Graduate / methods
  • Educational Measurement / methods*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Pathologists*
  • Professionalism*