Tenets of Professionalism

Policy 610.10

Policy Statement

Within the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine’s Professionalism Statement, eight 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
      • Altruism is defined as the unselfish regard for the wellbeing of others and is essential to engendering trust.
      • 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
      • Compassion refers to the awareness of, acknowledgement of, and desire to relieve, the suffering of others. Compassion and empathy dictates that a person’s individual lifestyle, beliefs, idiosyncrasies, and support systems be respected and taken into consideration at all times.
    3. Accountability
      • 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. Social Responsibility
      • 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.
    5. Integrity
      • Integrity is the consistent regard for the highest standards of behavior. It includes honesty, fairness, conscientiousness and faithfulness to duties, commitments and obligations.
    6. Respect
      • 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.
    7. Cultural Humility
      • Cultural Humility refers to our commitment and active engagement in a lifelong process of self-reflection to inform our ability to understand, respect, and communicate effectively with people of varying social or cultural backgrounds, belief systems, races, religions, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, disabilities, or veteran status.
      • Cultural humility invites us to recognize the limitations of our current knowledge, our systems which make use of that knowledge, our own personal beliefs, abilities, cultural attitudes and traditions and encourages curiosity to understand the cultural attitudes and traditions of others. Cultural humility is distinguished from cultural competence in conveying a lifelong commitment to self-evaluation and critique, to redressing the power imbalances in the physician-patient dynamic, and to developing mutually beneficial and non-paternalistic partnerships with communities on behalf of individuals and defined populations.
    8. Kindness
      • Kindness is expressed through the sincere and voluntary use of our time, talent and resources to better the lives of our patients, families, and each other through genuine acts of generosity and service. When we are kind to others, we make people feel valued and encourage them to reach their greatest heights.  Kindness can manifest as a friendly smile in passing, heartfelt words of encouragement or generous acts of benevolence.  It reflects caring and a charitable concern for the well-being of others.

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.

The tenets of professionalism as described above combine to create a learning environment which guides our daily interactions as we strive to conduct and support excellence in patient care, education, and research.

Applicability of the Policy

All Medical 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]
  • 8/6/2020 Policy Revised [Medical Curriculum Committee]
  • 2/16/2021 Policy Edit [Medical Curriculum Committee]
  • 12/19/2023 Policy Edit [Medical Curriculum Committee]

Policy Oversight

Office of the Dean (Director of the Learning Environment)

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