Indexed on: 27 Aug '13Published on: 27 Aug '13Published in: Journal of veterinary medical education
The teaching and assessment of professional behaviors and attitudes are important components of veterinary curricula. This article aims to outline some important considerations and concepts which will be useful for veterinary educators reviewing or developing this topic. A definition or framework of veterinary professionalism must be decided upon before educators can develop relevant learning outcomes. The interface between ethics and professionalism should be considered, and both clinicians and ethicists should deliver professionalism teaching. The influence of the hidden curriculum on student development as professionals should also be discussed during curriculum planning because it has the potential to undermine a formal curriculum of professionalism. There are several learning theories that have relevance to the teaching and learning of professionalism; situated learning theory, social cognitive theory, adult learning theory, reflective practice and experiential learning, and social constructivism must all be considered as a curriculum is designed. Delivery methods to teach professionalism are diverse, but the teaching of reflective skills and the use of early clinical experience to deliver valid learning opportunities are essential. Curricula should be longitudinal and integrated with other aspects of teaching and learning. Professionalism should also be assessed, and a wide range of methods have the potential to do so, including multisource feedback and portfolios. Validity, reliability, and feasibility are all important considerations. The above outlined approach to the teaching and assessment of professionalism will help ensure that institutions produce graduates who are ready for the workplace.