Student Professionalism


In 2009, members of the University of Chicago Physician and Medical Student Professionalism Committee and clerkship directors decided to outline the ideals and behaviors that students should embody during their medical school training. A task force on Medical Student Professionalism consisting of course directors, clerkship directors, student representatives, faculty members and faculty deans met for eight months to develop the following policies and procedures which were approved by the Education Executive Committee in April 2010.

Guiding Principles of Professionalism

A mark of a great medical school is the ability to create an environment which nurtures future physicians who possess knowledge of the most advanced scientific fundamentals and who demonstrate clinical competencies while behaving in ways that honor the profession of medicine.  Helping students to achieve this level of professionalism is as important to a medical school as is its success in educating students in the biological and clinical sciences.

Below are the fundamental attributes to which we ascribe as members of the Pritzker School of Medicine community in our professional responsibilitiesrelationships and ethic.

Professional Responsibilities

As a medical student and future physician, I have chosen to pursue a profession which requires personal integrity, compassion, and a constant awareness of the commitment I have made to myself, to my patients, and to the other members of the teams with whom I work. Exhibiting personal behaviors consistent with a respect for my chosen profession and having pride in my work are central tenets of professionalism which I will strive to incorporate into my daily life. To demonstrate my commitment to these responsibilities while enrolled at the Pritzker School of Medicine, I will:

  1. Seek and accept feedback and constructive instruction from teachers, peers, residents and faculty in order to continually improve my educational experience, knowledge, and clinical skills.

  2. Commit to the highest standards of competence both for myself and for those with whom I work. 

  3. Recognize the importance of life-long learning and commit to maintaining competence throughout my medical career.

  4. Be mindful of my demeanor, language, and appearance in the classroom, in the presence of patients, and in all health care settings.

  5. Be accountable to all members of the Pritzker community, including students, residents, faculty, and support staff.

  6. Admit to and assume responsibility for mistakes in a mature and honest manner and develop productive strategies for correcting them.

  7. Refrain from using illicit substances.  Refrain from using alcohol, non-prescription or prescription drugs in a manner that may compromise my judgment or my ability to contribute to safe and effective patient care.

  8.  Be considerate and respectful of others’ (teachers, peers, residents and faculty) time, rights, values, religious, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, lifestyles, opinions, and choices, even when they differ from my own.

  9. Meet the expectations for participation and timeliness that are communicated to me by those who teach me.

  10. Take an active role in caring for the diverse patient population served by the University of Chicago Medical Center.

  11. Recognize my limitations and seek help when my expertise, knowledge, or level of experience is inadequate to handle a situation in the classroom, hospital, or research setting.

Professional Relationships

Establishing productive and respectful relationships with patients, faculty, residents, staff, and colleagues is an essential component of providing the best possible health care. To strive for professionalism and kindness in all of my daily encounters, I will:

  1. Maintain appropriate relationships with patients, teachers, peers, residents and faculty.

  2. Treat all members of the UCMC and Pritzker community, patients, and their families with respect, compassion, and dignity.

  3. Be mindful to avoid intentionally embarrassing or deriding others.

  4. Provide feedback to others (both colleagues and superiors) in a constructive manner, with the goal of helping them to improve.

  5. Treat those who participate in my education (e.g. standardized patients) with dignity and respect.

  6.  Actively work to create an atmosphere in classrooms, clinical settings and in laboratories that is conducive to optimal, interactive learning.

  7. Help and support my peers during difficult times in their academic, professional, and personal lives.

  8. Attend to my own physical and emotional well-being.

Professional Ethic

Certain personal values and behaviors will be expected of me as a care-giver and as an ambassador of the Pritzker School of Medicine. Through my behaviors, I will demonstrate a commitment to honoring and upholding the expectations of the medical profession, and, in so doing, I will contribute to maintaining society’s trust in it. In particular, I will:

  1. Maintain the highest standards of academic and scholarly honesty throughout my medical education, by behaving in a trustworthy manner.

  2. Recognize and function in a manner consistent with my role as a student on a team.

  3. Maintain a commitment to patient confidentiality, recognizing that patients will trust me with sensitive information.

  4. Place my patients’ interests and well-being at the center of my educational and professional behavior and goals.

  5. Treat cadaveric and other scientific specimens with respect.

  6. Adhere to the standards of the profession as put forth by the American Board of Internal Medicine Physician Charter (Appendix A) whose fundamental principles are social justice, patient autonomy, and the primacy of patient welfare.

  7. Learn about and avoid conflicts of interest as I carry out my responsibilities.

  8. Contribute to medical knowledge through active scholarship and discovery.

Professionalism Concern Process

Faculty or Pritzker Staff who notice a significant lapse in student professionalism may notify a Faculty Dean, Course or Clerkship Director. The Faculty Dean, Course or Clerkship Director may choose to simply provide the student with feedback on his or her behavior. However,if the breach is significant enough they may report the situation to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs who will determine whether or not a Professionalism Concern Reporting (PCR) form should be completed.

If the Professionalism Concern Reporting Form (PCR) is filed, the student will meet individually with the Course or Clerkship Director to discuss the situation. The form is referred to the Associate Dean for Medical School Education and the form is kept in the student's file. If no other professionalism issues occur throughout the student's medical school career, the form is destroyed at graduation. No record of the incident will be recorded in the student's permanent file.

If a student accumulates more than two PCR forms and/or the Associate Dean for Medical School Education observes a pattern of troubling behavior, or feels a single behavior is an egregious professionalism lapse he/she will meet directly with the student. After meeting with the student the Dean may refer the student to the Committee on Academic Promotions.The Committee may recommend remediation, placement on Monitored Academic Status or Academic Probation, or inclusion of the professionalism concerns in the student’s Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE). Recommendation for inclusion in the MSPE is made to the Dean for Medical Education, who makes the final decision about whether the professionalism concerns will be included.  Ultimately, the Committee on Academic Promotions has the authority to dismiss a student from medical school for academic reasons, including failure to demonstrate appropriate ethical or professional behavior.

If the lapse in professionalism falls within the parameters of the University disciplinary system (e.g. plagiarism;falsification of documents; verbal or physical assault; sexual harassment), the Associate Dean for Medical School Education may refer the student to a University Disciplinary Committee.