Tenets of Professionalism

Policy 610.10

Policy Statement

  1. Ten relevant and important Tenets of Professionalism have been identified which pertain to medical professionals at all stages of education, training and practice within the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at The University of Vermont community. These include:
    1. Altruism
      1. Altruism is defined as the unselfish regard for the wellbeing of others and is essential to engendering trust.
      2. Total selflessness is not sustainable and must not be confused with altruism. Self care fosters balance in the lives of physicians, which ultimately leads to improved patient care.
    2. Compassion and Empathy
      1. Compassion refers to the awareness of, acknowledgement of, and desire to relieve, the suffering of others. Empathy refers to the ability to put oneself in another's situation. Compassion and empathy dictate that a person's individual lifestyle, beliefs, idiosyncrasies, and support systems be respected and taken into consideration.
    3. Accountability and Responsibility
      1. Medical professionals are accountable and responsible to their patients for fulfilling the implied contract governing the patient/physician relationship, to their profession for adhering to medicine's time-honored ethical principles, and to society for addressing the health needs of the public. Medical professionals are accountable and responsible to their colleagues for maintaining the highest level of professionalism.
    4. Excellence and Scholarship
      1. Excellence in medicine entails conscientious efforts to exceed ordinary expectations during medical education and training, and beyond. Scholarship entails curiosity and motivation for life-long learning and improvement.
    5. Duty and Service
      1. Duty is an obligation to serve others, even when the beliefs and values of the person being served differ from one's own. For the medical professional, duty implies an awareness, sensitivity, and responsiveness to patients and others in need. Service is the sharing of one's talents, time, and resources with those in need.
    6. Social Responsibility
      1. Medical professionals must promote justice in the health care system, including fair distribution of health care resources. They should work actively to eliminate discrimination in health care, as well as barriers to health, and to advocate for the availability of health care for all. Medical professionals must demonstrate concern for and responsiveness to social problems that endanger the health of members of society. Recognizing its relevance to human health, medical professionals must support and promote environmental sustainability.
    7. Honor and Integrity
      1. Honor and integrity are the consistent regard for the highest standards of behavior. Honor and integrity include truthfulness, fairness, conscientiousness and faithfulness to commitments and obligations.
    8. Respect
      1. Respect is the sincere regard for the autonomy and values of other people – their feelings, needs, thoughts, ideas, wishes and preferences. This includes patients, those close to them, families and colleagues.
    9. Humility
      1. No matter how well informed, well trained and knowledgeable a medical professional may be, humility requires medical professionals to develop an awareness of the limitations of our current knowledge, our systems which make use of current knowledge, and our own personal abilities.
    10. Cultural Competence
      1. Cultural competence refers to the ability to interact effectively with people of varying social or cultural backgrounds, different beliefs or practices, different race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and disability, and veteran status. This requires awareness and recognition of one's own cultural attitudes and traditions and a sincere curiosity to understand the cultural attitudes and traditions of others. Developing cultural competence results in an increased ability to understand, respect, communicate with, and interact effectively with other people.
  2. In order to fulfill these basic tenets successfully, each of the above attributes relies on ongoing efforts by individuals to develop awareness and insight into their own emotions, motivations and actions in order for the primacy of patient welfare to be preserved.
  3. The tenets of professionalism as described above combine to create a milieu which enhances patient care, scholarship and research, commitment to the health care needs of society, and the ability of all members of the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at The University of Vermont community to interact and carry out their responsibilities optimally. Medical knowledge and skill are simply not enough. Optimal medical and scientific practice require good judgment, respect for the values of the profession of medicine, and a commitment to the wellbeing of patients and those close to them.

Applicability of the Policy

All Students

Related Larner College of Medicine Policies

Related University of Vermont Policies

Related Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) Standard(s)

  • 3.5 Learning Environment/Professionalism
  • 3.6 Student Mistreatment


  • 2/21/2012 Policy Adopted [Medical Curriculum Committee]
  • 4/12/2012 Policy Affirmed [COM Advisory Council]
  • 8/20/2019 Gender Neutral Language Edit [Medical Curriculum Committee]
  • 12/17/2019 Reformatted [Medical Curriculum Committee]

Policy Oversight

Office of the Dean (Director of the Learning Environment)

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