A strategy towards professionalism in the dissecting room

Marise Heyns

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The teaching and cultivation of professionalism is an integral part of medical education as professionalism is central to maintaining the public’s trust in the medical profession. Traditionally professional values would have been acquired through an informal process of socialisation and observation of role models. Recently, however, medical educators have accepted the responsibility to explicitly teach and effectively evaluate professionalism. A comprehensive working definition of the term professionalism and a universally agreed list of the constituent elements of professionalism are currently debated. The School of Medicine and Dentistry of The Queen’s University of Belfast uses an approach of self-directed learning for teaching anatomy, and students are given the opportunity to learn anatomy from human dissection. Self-directed learning teams have been found to be underutilised as educational strategies and presented an opportunity to utilise the first year dissection room teaching environment to nurture the development of the attributes of professionalism. An educational strategy based on role-playing was developed to engage all students around the dissection table. Students received comprehensive background reviews on professionalism, its attributes and the identification of such attributes in the context of the dissection room. Roles, with specific duties attached, were allocated to each team member. Circulating academic staff members directly observed student participation and gave formative feedback. Students were given the opportunity to reflect on their ability to identify the attributes and reflect on their own and their peer’s ability to develop and practise these attributes. This strategy indicated that small group learning teams in the dissection room utilise widely accepted principles of adult learning and offer an opportunity to create learning activities that will instil in students the knowledge, values, attitudes and behaviours that characterise medical professionalism. Anatomy faculty have a responsibility to nurture and exemplify professionalism and play a significant role in the early promotion and inculcation of professionalism. It remains imperative not only to assess this strategy but also to create opportunities for critical reflection and evaluation within the strategy. Key words: Medical Education – Professionalism – Anatomy - Reflective Practise – Role-play
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy


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