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Keywords:

  • professionalism;
  • assessment of professionalism;
  • medical education;
  • altruism;
  • gross anatomy

Abstract

By design or default, anatomy educators are often responsible for introducing students to medical professionalism. Although much has been said about the role of anatomical education, there are no published reports suggesting how to measure change. This study investigated what professionalism attitudes, if any, change during a gross anatomy course. Additionally, the influence of four dichotomous variables related to student identity and preparation for medical school were analyzed for their effect on professionalism attitudes. A cross-sectional time-one (T1; beginning of the course), time-two (T2; end of the course) study using the Penn State College of Medicine Survey of Professionalism was conducted. A multivariate analysis of variance identified the main effects and interaction effects of categorical variables. A Mann Whitney U test verified significant differences. This study found a reprioritization of professionalism attitudes in favor of altruism (P = 0.04 with a Cohen's d = 0.26) at T2. Female students (P = 0.03, Cohen's d = 0.38) and students from a science background (P = 0.04, Cohen's d = 0.36) changed the most in favor of altruism. Interestingly, though several factors correlated with dissimilarities in professionalism values at T1, gender was the only factor to show a significant difference in professionalism attitudes at T2. This cohort of students reported a statistically significant increase in altruism and no significant decreases in other professionalism attitudes concurrent with the gross anatomy course. Anat Sci Educ 3:12–16, 2010. © 2009 American Association of Anatomists