Bioethics Blogs

“I Never Considered That.” Medical Student Professionalism Peer- Evaluations and the Self-Identity of a Future Physician.

By Anna Lama

I recently presented a workshop on the assessment of professionalism at the Southern Group on Educational Affairs (SGEA) conference.  I planned to discuss the elements of assessment: developing a framework to define professionalism, discussing successful assessment practices and reviewing the various tools available to assess professionalism.1  Much to my surprise, the discussion quickly moved into deeper inquiry on student participation, perceptions, and self-identity through the use of peer evaluations on professionalism…

What do your students say about their feedback when they receive it?
Do you talk to students about overtly critical reviews?  Overtly glowing reviews?
How do you deal with initial reactions to those comments?
Are they anonymous?
How do you know they are reflecting and “getting real” with themselves?

Inquiring minds wanted to know! Thankfully, two of my medical students happened to be in the room with me.  “I really value the content of the peer evals, and the scale was not difficult to use.  This evaluation tool can help students with their teamwork skills which translate really well to working with patients.”  Gasp! My heart stopped beating for a moment as my student offered his unscripted reflection.  He was able to share a perspective in the most honest and intimate way.

As the assessment director for the West Virginia University School of Medicine, I read hundreds, if not thousands, of evaluation data pieces per year.  While all are important pieces, the most interesting is our student peer-to-peer evaluation and self-evaluation, which specifically addresses professionalism.  Both evaluations are similar in structure where the students are to identify strengths and weaknesses, through specific questions, within nine domains such as honesty and integrity, accountability, responsibility, etc.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.