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Relating professionalism and conscientiousness to develop an objective, scalar, proxy measure of professionalism in anaesthetic trainees

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Marina Sawdon, Professor John McLachlan

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Abstract

© 2017 The Author(s). Background: The concept of professionalism is complex and subjective and relies on expert judgements. Currently, there are no existing objective measures of professionalism in anaesthesia. However, it is possible that at least some elements of professionalism may be indicated by objective measures. A number of studies have suggested that conscientiousness as a trait is a significant contributor to professionalism. Methods: A 'Conscientiousness Index' (CI) was developed by collation of routinely collected data from tasks expected to be carried out by anaesthetic trainees such as punctual submission of holiday and 'not-on-call' requests, attendance at audit meetings, timely submission of completed appraisal documentation and sickness/absence notifications. The CI consists of a sum of points deducted from a baseline of 50 for non-completion of these objective and measurable behaviours related to conscientiousness. This was correlated with consultants' formal and informal subjective measures of professionalism in those trainees. Informal, subjective measures of professionalism consisted of a 'Professionalism Index' (PI). The PI consisted of a score developed from consultants' expert, subjective views of professionalism for those trainees. Formal, subjective measures of professionalism consisted of a score derived from comments made by consultants in College Tutor feedback forms on their views on the professionalism of those trainees (College Tutor feedback; CT). The PI and CT scores were correlated against the CI using a Pearson or Spearman correlation coefficient. Results: There was a negative, but not statistically significant, relationship between the CI and formal, subjective measures of professionalism; CT scores (r = -0.341, p = 0.06), but no correlation between CI and consultants informal views of trainees' professionalism; the PI scores (r s = -0.059, p = 0.759). Conclusions: This may be due the 'failure to fail' phenomenon due to the high stakes nature of raising concerns of professionalism in postgraduate healthcare professionals or may be that the precision of the tool may be insufficient to distinguish between trainees who generally show highly professional behaviour. Future development of the tool may need to include more of the sub-facets of conscientiousness. Independently of a relationship with the construct of professionalism, a measure of conscientiousness might be of interest to future employers.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Sawdon MA, Whitehouse K, Finn GM, McLachlan JC, Murray D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: BMC Medical Education

Year: 2017

Volume: 17

Online publication date: 01/03/2017

Acceptance date: 22/02/2017

ISSN (electronic): 1472-6920

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd

URL: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-017-0891-6

DOI: 10.1186/s12909-017-0891-6


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