Medical Education and Training

Understanding Medical Professionalism

Published by McGraw-Hill Medical in partnership with the ABIM Foundation, Understanding Medical Professionalism is a groundbreaking book that teaches health care students and clinicians how to deliver the highest quality patient care through professionalism in medical practice. The book was authored by Wendy S. Levinson, MD, Shiphra Ginsburg, MD, Frederic W. Hafferty, PhD, and Catherine R. Lucey, MD, all of whom are recognized as experts in the field.

Understanding Medical Professionalism includes real-life case scenarios that illustrate the pitfalls and challenges faced by practitioners. The book offers actionable guidance on how to successfully address these challenges and helps students and clinicians develop the behavioral skills necessary to provide outstanding patient care.

Understanding Medical Professionalism is built around four key premises:

  1. Medical professionalism can be thought of as a set of specific skills and behaviors that can be clearly demonstrated.
  2. Challenges to medical professionalism in the clinical or educational setting are not rare events, but are everyday occurrences that can be identified and managed.
  3. Medical professionalism is a systems issue, relevant to all caregivers and administrators in the health care team.
  4. Professionalism should be a lifelong pursuit and not thought of as a static topic for a brief training period or course. Rather, it is a competency developed over time.

The text is intended to support professionals in the medical field who are working to advance the principles and commitments of Medical Professionalism in the New Millennium: A Physician Charter.

  • Medical students at all levels will be able to relate to the typical professionalism challenges presented as realistic and engaging scenarios throughout this book. The authors provide practical advice and tips on how to make sense of and respond to such challenges during training.
  • Clerkship directors will appreciate the straightforward approach to common professionalism challenges faced by their students. This book provides a practical and useful framework to guide teaching, evaluation and remediation of professionalism.
  • Residents will recognize the descriptions of common professionalism challenges and will appreciate the author’s recommendations on how to successfully demonstrate professionalism in stressful circumstances.
  • Post-graduate residency directors will find that the practical advice and sample conversations that address professionalism lapses are supportive but direct and thus extremely useful, as they are often tasked with dealing with complaints about unprofessional behavior by their residents or faculty.
  • Medical school leaders will find this book useful in building a culture of positive professionalism within their faculty. The practical advice on addressing disruptive behaviors and fostering a positive environment for learners and faculty is a refreshing approach to a persistently thorny problem.

Understanding Medical Professionalism is available for purchase on

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