"Professionalism follows the laws of physics and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle specifically, because as soon as you point to it, professionalism is no longer there. It is not a matter of trying. It is a matter of being."
During M1 orientation, new medical students are introduced to the ideals and expectations of physician professionalism. Specifically, they learn about the Code of Professionalism here at the UTHSC College of Medicine which emphasizes care of the patient's needs over their own, explains the importance of maintaining positive relationships with colleagues and peers, and notes the civic responsibilities of physicians. More specific guidelines for professional behavior during clerkships (M-3 and M-4 years) are outlined in the UTHSC Catalog (pg 396). (Your browser should open to page 396 in the 2013-14 version. If not please scroll down.).
In addition to this general Code of Professionalism, there are university-wide policies outlined in the CenterScope Handbook (pgs 84-104). (Your browser should open to page 84 in the 2012-13 version). Those pertain to all Colleges, and to student conduct both on and off-campus. They include policies pertaining to serious infractions, such as abuse of drugs and alcohol, sexual harassment, theft, vandalism, and other behavior that can result in disciplinary action, as well as legal problems. Likewise, there are policies aimed to protect students - specifically the Student Mistreatment Policy - designed to prevent abusive behavior from faculty, residents, fellows, and others in positions of authority over medical students. Our aim is to provide a climate of mutual respect and collaboration.
Professionalism guidelines for medical students in their M1 and M2 years are not spelled out in any specific policy or handbook: It is expected that students bring honesty, integrity, good manners, kindness, and a sense of duty to the table. Students will develop their own sense of professionalism as they progress through the pre-clinical years, and use this judgment to guide their choices and decisions. Missteps along the way are part of the learning experience. Indeed these may help shape students into better physicians one day. An important aspect of professional behavior is to admit mistakes and learn from them, rather than project blame on others.
To clarify certain expectations, especially for new students, the student-run Professionalism Committee has developed this list of guidelines (below). The committee's mission is to facilitate communication about professionalism concerns; to find ways to address issues informally, and to prevent problems from escalating. The functions of the Professionalism Committee are outlined in detail on the Student Affairs web site. Note that this committee is not an "enforcer" of professional conduct. That responsibility rests squarely with the faculty. Persistent concerns are taken seriously and will be referred to the academic Progress and Promotion committee for action, regardless of the offending student's GPA.
For more specific guidelines, see Professionalism in Pre-Clinical Years.