SPECIAL SECTION: RESPONDING TO THE CALL OF PROFESSIONALISM
Where Is the Virtue in Professionalism?
a1 University of Pennsylvania and the
American Society for Bioethics and Humanities Task Force
on Graduate Medical Education in Bioethics and Humanities
There is a wind of change about to affect the training of all house
officers in the United States. The Accreditation Council of Graduate
Medical Education (ACGME) has promulgated a set of general competencies
for all U.S.-trained residents, with a major thrust focused on bioethics
and professionalism that will likely catch residency directors unaware.
The ACGME's General
Competencies document globally addresses
many relationship-based ethical roles and responsibilities of house officers
in healthcare. Of note, this document contains a specific section on
professionalism. However, the entire document is woven with a sustained
thread of medical ethics throughout its other sections. The intent is to
imbue each physician with those skills, rules, and aspects of character
that will be a foundation for humane, ethical, professional conduct.
Professionalism does indeed go beyond ethical principles, accounting for
competency and commitment to excellence and, most of all, implying a virtue
ethics account of medical practice. The need to address the central place
of virtue ethics in house-staff education is apparent, and we now have the
right tool for the job—the ACGME General