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Cases - Is this professional behaviour?

What are the expectations of professionalism placed on medical students:

  • by one’s self?

  • by our colleagues and co-workers?

  • by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario?

  • by our patients?

  • by society?

Use the following scenarios to self-reflect and consider the many facets of professionalism.

1.

You are treating a patient with chronic bronchitis, emphysema and osteoporosis. She is a long time smoker. You have often counselled her about the risks of smoking and benefits of quitting, yet she refuses to attempt to quit. You tell Ms. Stevens that if she does not quit smoking in the near future, you will be unwilling to continue to treat her smoking-related medical conditions.

Is this professional behaviour ?

Is your attitude toward professional issues in this case a personal standard and/or one generally accepted ?

2.

You are working in the emergency department and learn from the triage nurse that one of the patients waiting to be seen is very angry about the wait time to be seen by a doctor. As you do not feel comfortable dealing with aggression or hostility, you ask a male colleague who is very assertive to see the patient in question.

Is this professional behaviour ?

Would this be considered professional behaviour by your colleagues ?

3.

While working in a dialysis unit, you find yourself very attracted to one of the frequent patients. He or she asks you to go out for dinner sometime. You explain that you cannot because of professional respect for the physician-patient relationship and clear guideline from the College. Two months after leaving the unit for another rotation, you meet this person again, this time at the gym. You agree to go out for coffee, as he or she is no longer your patient.

Is this professional behaviour?

Would this be considered professional behaviour by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario?

4.

After a long day in the OR, you, a surgical resident, proceed to the wards to round on your patients. Mr. Patel's family has been waiting most of the day to speak to you about his post-op progress. Since you are running behind schedule, you ask them to hold off on asking their questions until the following day when you will have more time.

Is this professional behaviour?

Would this be considered professional behaviour by the patient?

5.

You are in a rush and driving above the speed limit. You are pulled over by a police officer and given a ticket for speeding. You tell the police officer that you are a medical student clerk and have been paged to the hospital for an emergency (this may or may not actually be the truth). You are upset that the police officer does not consider this an acceptable reason for speeding and argue the issue.

Is this professional behaviour?

Would this be considered professional behaviour by society?