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Blending structured and individualised approaches to management of unprofessional behaviour

Date:  Saturday 28 August
Time:  0930-1230


  • Susannah Brockbank
  • Mumtaz Patel
  • Viktoria Joynes


Summary of Theme and Why it is important: Evidence that unprofessional behaviour as a medical student increases the risk of misconduct after qualification has created a mandate to identify and assess unprofessional behaviour (Papadakis et al., 2005). A cluster of recent publications have recommended frameworks against which unprofessional behaviour can be judged (e.g. Mak-van der Vossen et al., 2019). These frameworks are appealing to practitioners as they offer a universal formula to solve a complex problem. Professionalism, however, is context-specific and influenced by many factors including personal lives, health and academic performance. Furthermore, there is a tension between managing unprofessional behaviour and supporting learners who may be faced with multiple challenges.

At the University of Liverpool, UK, we have developed an identification system that engages with educators to encourage reporting of any potential professionalism lapses. Lapses are investigated and scored according to severity. Beyond a threshold score, learners are linked with an individual case manager to provide support, formulate action plans and monitor progress against agreed outcomes. The development of this blended system has been informed by our empirical research. We have identified challenges with forming a ‘professional’ identity once a learner has been labelled as ‘unprofessional’.

In this workshop, we will share our system that facilitates early identification of ‘at risk’ learners without being unduly punitive and the individual case management approach that allows faculty to develop a more holistic understanding of a learner's professionalism over time. In combination, they provide a longitudinal, individualised approach, which supports robust transfer of information between undergraduate and postgraduate domains.

What participants will gain: This interactive workshop will allow participants to share examples of good practice as well as challenges they have faced. They will gain:

* an understanding the value of structured and individualised approaches to assessment of unprofessional behaviour.
* an appreciation of the evidence and practical principles that underpin an individual case management approach.
* take-home ideas for a blended approach appropriate for their context.

Who should participate: Educators involved in assessment of professionalism lapses across the continuum of medical education.

Level of workshop:  Intermediate

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