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Symposium examines modern professionalism in medicine

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Dr. Abraham Fuks, former dean of medicine at McGill University

The Inaugural Dr. Leslie A. Wells Lecture in Medical Professionalism was delivered during a special symposium on professionalism in medicine, hosted by the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial and held at the Fluvarium in St. John's in October.

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The Inaugural Dr. Leslie A. Wells Lecture in Medical Professionalism was delivered during a special symposium on professionalism in medicine, hosted by the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial and held at the Fluvarium in St. John's in October. Dr. Abraham Fuks, former dean of medicine at McGill University, spoke on the New Professionalism and the Old Doctoring.

Dr. Leslie Wells and family members Dr. Mary Wells, Robert Wells and Andrew Wells, attended the symposium. Dr. Fuks began his talk with a tribute to Dr. Leslie Wells and his long career as a surgeon in Newfoundland and Labrador. “Time, sympathy and understanding must be lavishly spent as part of a physician's professional obligations,” said Dr. Fuks. “Medical professionalism is the basis for our social contract and acknowledges the primacy of patient welfare.”

Dr. Fuks said Canadian medical professionalism faces a challenge. “Everyone is going faster and faster, but we need to stop and listen to our patients. Physician empathy is an important component of clinical competence.”

“Professionalism,” said Dr. Fuks, “is a concept in flux. We need to humanize an over-professional curriculum. Professionalism is a necessary but insufficient constant for understanding the mandate of medicine.”

The symposium also included two presentations and a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Fuks.

Dr. Andrew Major, Anesthesia, presented an introduction to a reflective portfolio to foster and assess non-medical expert CanMEDS roles in an anesthesia residency program. The title of his presentation, Reflection is terrific… as long as it’s not self flagellation, was taken from a comment made by one of the residents who participated in the exercise.

“A year ago we had a Royal College Review of our anesthesia residency program and some questions were raised about professionalism, “explained Dr. Major. “Dr. Sue O’Leary spearheaded this project, which allowed residents to practice reflection skills in a safe environment. We were surprised at how positive the feedback was not one single resident was negative about using the portfolio, and it was effective in bringing professionalism forward as an issue.”

Clinical clerk Sandra Cooke-Hubley gave a presentation on social networking use among medical students. Her survey of 167 medical students in the first three years of the MD program found that 90 per cent of students used Facebook, the world’s largest social network, with over 75 per cent using it multiple times a day and 90 per cent logging in at least one a day.

Ms. Cooke-Hubley said it was encouraging that 97 per cent of the student surveyed used Facebook’s privacy setting, although 70 per cent said it was not secure enough and were concerned that patients might access their information.

The formal part of the day’s program ended with a panel discussion on professionalism in medicine for the 21st century. The panelists were Drs. Donald Boudrea, McGill; Dr. Ayelet Kuper, University of Toronto; and, Dr. Pier Bryden, University of Toronto.



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