Author: Stephenson A and Roff S Publication Year: 2015
Summary: The UK General Medical Council requires proof of fitness to practice before a graduate can provisionally register as a doctor. This study explores current understandings of professionalism among UK medical school undergraduates using the Dundee Polyprofessionalism Inventory I: Academic Integrity.
Description: Background: The UK General Medical Council requires proof of fitness to practice before a graduate can provisionally register as a doctor and medical schools are expected to have fitness to practice procedures in place. Guidance on Medical Students: professional behaviour and fitness to practice was published in 2007 and is currently being reviewed. We investigate current understandings of aspects of professionalism among UK medical school undergraduates using the Dundee Polyprofessionalism Inventory I: Academic Integrity.

Methodology: The Dundee Polyprofessionalism Inventory I: Academic Integrity is an online inventory of lapses in academic professional behaviour or attitude that can be used with students in terms of whether they are perceived as wrong, and what sanctions should apply. The inventory has been used in studies of Scottish, Saudi Arabian, Egyptian and Pakistani medical students and UK osteopaths. 29 items of the Dundee Polyprofessionalism Inventory I: Academic Integrity were administered electronically using Bristol Online Survey to 432 undergraduates at one London medical school.

Results: Responses were analysed by gender, age and ethnicity and compared with published data from a Scottish medical school. The inter-school results indicate that there are broad congruences between the recommended sanctions proposed between these two London and Scottish medical schools, but also several differences in perceptions of the severity of some failures of academic integrity as part of medical student professionalism. The results also point to some particular issues that the London students might benefit from focussed teaching (as did the analysis of the Scottish data for that school).

Conclusions: The Dundee Polyprofessionalism Inventory I permits the ‘mapping’ of a medical school culture in relation to the understanding of specific elements of Academic Integrity and this can be used for formative learning and for quality assurance monitoring. There are indications of broad congruence of understanding between the students of these two UK medical schools and this should be explored further to see if there is wider congruence among the UK’s 33 medical schools. The ‘fractal-like’ quality of the results reported here from 20% of a reasonably representative sample from one medical school may, if supported by further studies of similar cohorts, indicate the reliability of reference group approaches to the study of the process of student socialisation into the comparative frames of reference of a highly socialised profession such as Medicine and the ‘mapping’ of individual and cohort professional identity formation in a variety of ways to track the learning curves.

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