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  • My Turn

    December 01, 2012

    As one of the specialty’s core competencies, professionalism is essential to achieving the central goal of every radiologist: providing patient-centered care.

    Professionalism Vignettes Spark Discussion of Daily Dilemmas

    In 2005, RSNA endorsed the Physicians’ Charter stating that “professionalism demands placing the interests of patients above those of the physician, setting and maintaining standards of competence and integrity, and providing expert advice to society on matters of health.” This is essential to maintaining the public’s trust in physicians and represents the basis of medicine’s contract with society.

    Although radiologists are called upon to demonstrate professionalism in their day-to-day activities, few have had formal instruction on the topic; programs in teaching and evaluating professionalism among radiology residents have only recently been introduced. Educational innovation is particularly important for teaching professionalism, because traditional teaching methods, by themselves, do not promote active audience participation or facilitate retention of learned material. One such educational innovation is the use of vignettes that describe specific situations and require the learner to inquire more closely into the dynamics of those situations.

    The RSNA Professionalism Committee has developed a series of web -based vignettes that provide thought-provoking scenarios, based on published literature, in an interactive question-and-answer format. Professionalism Committee Chair Marilyn Goske, M.D., says the vignettes “seek to engage radiologists in a meaningful way to consider the importance of professionalism in their daily practice.”

    Each vignette illustrates a real-life situation with a professional dilemma, followed by a series of multiple-choice questions that draw attention to important, specific teaching points on professionalism. For teaching purposes, we have minimized detail in order to elucidate the relevant principles of professionalism in an online format. Therefore, the answers provided in these vignettes should be considered as “educational beacons” and starting points for discussion rather than policies appropriate to all contexts, or the only legally appropriate alternatives.

    The vignettes will be issued bimonthly and cover such diverse topics as “Disclosure of Radiologic Error” to a patient, “The Disruptive Physician” and “Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.”

    It is our hope that these vignettes will increase radiologists’ awareness of important issues and principles in professionalism in preparation for facing such difficult professional problems in real life.

    Peruse our professionalism website and access the vignettes at RSNA.org/Professionalism. We welcome your feedback.

    black arrowhead 9 x 10 GIF Contact the editor 

    Stephen Chan, M.D.
    Stephen Chan, M.D., is an academic radiologist at New York’s Columbia University and a member of RSNA’s Professionalism Committee
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