University of Vermont

College of Medicine

Medical Student Education


Medical Professionalism

The College of Medicine is committed to creating and maintaining a learning environment that supports and encourages respect for every individual, and promotes the development of professionalism in medical students.

As part of their formal training, medical students learn the importance of demonstrating the attributes of a professional and understand the balance of privileges and obligations that the public and the profession expect of a physician. The importance of understanding and possessing the professional attributes expected of physicians is emphasized throughout the Vermont Integrated Curriculum, beginning with Orientation, continuing throughout the Foundations curriculum, and further developed in the third and fourth year clinical experiences.

Statement on Medical Professionalism

We affirm our commitment to creating and maintaining a community that supports and encourages respect for every individual. To that aim, we expect all members of the UVM College of Medicine community to act professionally in the school, hospital and wider community with patients, those close to them, families and colleagues.

The policies and standards that outline the College of Medicine expectations of professional conduct include:

The Medical Student Handbook (PDF) also outlines a Classroom Code of Conduct and General Guidelines for Medical Student Demeanor and Appearance.

Tenets of Professionalism

The Tenets of Professionalism combine to create a culture that enhances patient care, scholarship and research, commitment to the health care needs of society, and the ability of all members of the UVM College of Medicine community to interact and carry out their responsibilities in the best way possible. Ten relevant and important Tenets of Professionalism have been identified which pertain to medical professionals at all stages of education, training and practice within the UVM College of Medicine community. These include:

  1. Altruism: Altruism is defined as the unselfish regard for the wellbeing of others and is essential to engendering trust. Total selflessness is not sustainable and must not be confused with altruism. Self-care fosters balance in the lives of physicians, which ultimately leads to improved patient care.
  2. Compassion and Empathy: Compassion refers to the awareness of, acknowledgement of, and desire to relieve, the suffering of others. Empathy refers to the ability to put oneself in another’s situation. Compassion and empathy dictate that a person’s individual lifestyle, beliefs, idiosyncrasies, and support systems be respected and taken into consideration.
  3. Accountability and Responsibility: Medical professionals are accountable and responsible to their patients for fulfilling the implied contract governing the patient/physician relationship, to their profession for adhering to medicine’s time-honored ethical principles, and to society for addressing the health needs of the public. Medical professionals are accountable and responsible to their colleagues for maintaining the highest level of professionalism.
  4. Excellence and Scholarship: Excellence in medicine entails conscientious efforts to exceed ordinary expectations during medical education and training, and beyond. Scholarship entails curiosity and motivation for life-long learning and improvement.
  5. Duty and Service: Duty is an obligation to serve others, even when the beliefs and values of the person being served differ from one’s own. For the medical professional, duty implies an awareness, sensitivity, and responsiveness to patients and others in need. Service is the sharing of one’s talents, time, and resources with those in need.
  6. Social Responsibility: Medical professionals must promote justice in the health care system, including fair distribution of health care resources. They should work actively to eliminate discrimination in health care, as well as barriers to health, and to advocate for the availability of health care for all. Medical professionals must demonstrate concern for and responsiveness to social problems that endanger the health of members of society. Recognizing its relevance to human health, medical professionals must support and promote environmental sustainability.
  7. Honor and Integrity: Honor and integrity are the consistent regard for the highest standards of behavior. Honor and integrity include truthfulness, fairness, conscientiousness and faithfulness to commitments and obligations.
  8. Respect: Respect is the sincere regard for the autonomy and values of other people -- their feelings, needs, thoughts, ideas, wishes and preferences. This includes patients, those close to them, families and colleagues.
  9. Humility: No matter how well informed, well trained and knowledgeable a medical professional may be, humility requires medical professionals to develop an awareness of the limitations of our current knowledge, our systems which make use of current knowledge, and our own personal abilities.
  10. Cultural Competence: Cultural competence refers to the ability to interact effectively with people of varying social or cultural backgrounds, different beliefs or practices, different race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and disability and veteran status. This requires awareness and recognition of one’s own cultural attitudes and traditions and a sincere curiosity to understand the cultural attitudes and traditions of others. Developing cultural competence results in an increased ability to understand, respect, communicate with, and interact effectively with other people.

College of Medicine Ombudsperson

Sally Bliss, R.N., M.S.B.

Sally Bliss, MSB, RN, is the College of Medicine Ombudsperson, with a focus on promoting professional culture and behavior and resolving issues before formal action is pursued. The Ombudsperson:

  • Provides a neutral safe and confidential environment to talk.
  • Listens to concerns and complaints, and discussing appropriate options.
  • Mediates conflicts and engage in unbiased diplomacy.
  • Provides information and refers students, residents, and fellows to appropriate resources.

To keep services confidential, there are no records kept. The preferred methods of contact are as follows:

Office Visit: Patrick 226A - Map
Phone: (802) 847-5155
PAS/Pager: (802) 847-2700, pager 2102

The Confidential Reporting System can be accessed by logging in to COMET.

Last modified November 27 2013 02:54 PM