Disciplinary Actions Against Physicians Linked With Unprofessional Behaviors in Medical School, Study Finds
Students who display unprofessional behaviors in medical school are three times more likely to receive disciplinary action from a state medical board in their professional careers than those who do not display such behaviors, according to a study published on Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, USA Today reports. For the study, researchers compared medical school histories of graduates of the University of California-San Francisco School of Medicine, the University of Michigan Medical School and Jefferson Medical College who were later disciplined by a state medical board between 1990 and 2003 with the histories of graduates who were not disciplined.
The study finds that medical school students who at least three times engaged in irresponsible behaviors, such as unreliable attendance at clinics and lack of follow up on patient care, were 8.5 times more likely to receive disciplinary action as physicians. In addition, the study finds that medical school students who at least three times displayed limited capacity for self-improvement, such as failure to accept constructive criticism or an argumentative attitude, were 3.1 times more likely to receive disciplinary action as physicians. Overall, unprofessional behaviors were a stronger predictor of future disciplinary action than conventional indicators such as test scores and grades, according to the study.
Lead study author Maxine Papadakis, dean for student affairs at UCSFSM, said, "We found that for physicians disciplined by licensing boards, the strongest association in medical school was unprofessional behaviors." She said that unprofessional behaviors by medical school students could serve as early warning signs of future problems for professors (Weise, USA Today, 12/22).
An abstract of the study is available online.