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Bad professional behavior dates back to medical school

authors said.

The violations among the 235 physicians that led to disciplinary actions included use of drugs or alcohol, negligence, sexual misconduct, fraud and failure to meet continuing medical education requirements. Many of these physicians were repeat offenders, the study authors said.

The research supports a growing movement to make professionalism a requirement for graduation from medical residency programs. In 1999, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education in the US included professionalism as one of six "core competencies" being phased in by 2006 as a requirement for graduation.

Researchers looked at such things as how responsibly medical students followed up on patient care and their attitudes when taking constructive criticism.

The study examined the medical school history of graduates who were later disciplined by a state medical board from 1990 to 2003, and compared them with similar students with no history of problems in medical school. The schools studied were UCSF, the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor and Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.

Together, these traits turned out to be a much stronger predictor of future disciplinary action than more traditional measures such as test scores and grades.

The study is part of a larger movement within the field of medicine to retool itself for a world where "I don't know" is an acceptable phrase from a doctor. This is in contrast to the all-knowing, paternalistic doctor whom medical schools educated prior to the 1970s. The change began in the 1980s and 1990s. Today there's a great deal more emphasis being placed on professionalism, humanistic behavior and ethical issues.

Disciplinary action by a state medical board is rare. Of the 725,000 practicing physicians in the USA, only 0.3% is disciplined each year. Failing to graduate from medical school is more likely; one in 20 students wash out for a
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