Background: The past decade has seen an increasing focus on professionalism within the medical school curriculum. This reflects the growing demand for doctors who demonstrate empathy and uphold the altruistic values of the Hippocratic Oath. Such is often challenged by the resource-constrained environments of developing nations requiring uniquely tailored interventions within these regions.
Purpose: As part of a wider effort to develop training of medical professionalism at our institution, an initiative was pursued to assess the current knowledge about and attitudes toward medical professionalism.
Methods: The study was designed as a cross-sectional descriptive study of fourth and fifth year medical students and junior doctors. A questionnaire was adapted and revised from a previously published study. Questions were grouped into categories pertaining to knowledge about professionalism and attitudes toward professionalism. Overall, 191 questionnaires were analysed (168 students and 23 doctors).
Results: Junior doctors’ scores were higher than medical students for all knowledge subscales but scores on the attitude subscales were significantly lower than medical students. Overall, in both groups, attitude scores were higher than knowledge scores. There was an overall trend of decreasing attitude scores as persons progressed through their training years and into clinical practice.
Conclusions: Results demonstrate limited knowledge about medical professionalism but good attitudes toward this trait. Taken together, this perhaps highlights a receptivity toward more formal training within this area that is also justified by the marked decline in attitude scores over time.