Evaluating Professionalism in Emergency Medicine: Clinical Ethical Competence


  • Gregory Luke Larkin MD, MS, MSPH

    Corresponding author
    1. Mercy Hospital of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA (GLL).
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*13 Pride Street/EMAP, Pittsburgh PA 15219. Fax: 412-232-5768; e-mail: glarkin+@pitt.edu


Abstract. While the teaching and assessing of technical skills have been an integral part of residency training, the demonstration of ethical and humanistic skills has been more or less left to chance. Only in the last two decades has the formal teaching of bioethics become an accepted component of Western medical education. In spite of the many ethics lectures, discussions, conferences, and courses, the clinical impact of this educational paradigm shift remains unclear. Most ethics assessments to date are conducted retrospectively by risk managers and attorneys. The few prospective evaluations of trainees have focused on single-researcher observations or student attitude surveys that are fraught with observer and recall biases, respectively. More reliable and valid methods of identifying clinical ethical competence are needed. This paper reviews a variety of evaluative tools and suggests a three-level approach to monitoring the ethical knowledge, capacity, and real-time performance of emergency medicine residents.