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Renaissance School of Medicine Cited for Professional Identity Program

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The Renaissance School of Medicine has been recognized with the 2019 Professionalism Award by the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. The award highlights best practices in medical professionalism education and recognizes the School for its Professional Identity Formation (PIF) curriculum, which is part of medical school training from the initial white coat ceremony to graduation.

Kenneth Kaushansky, MD

According Alpha Omega Alpha: The professional identity of an excellent doctor embraces empathy, mindful attention to patient care, integrity, self-awareness, teamwork, beneficence, respect and equal regard for all, as well as eagerness to learn, resilience, and attention to self-care. Professional Identity Formation is a lifelong endeavor achieved through critical reflection and exposures to role models who “pass the torch” from generation to generation.

Faculty at the Renaissance School of Medicine developed PIF by identifying evidence-based approaches to enhance professional identity formation among trainees and faculty across the curriculum. Purposeful integration of this approach into the School’s learning processes is designed to enhance resilience and a sense of belonging and well-being within a community of practice – something leaders at the School believe is important and necessary, particularly during this time of increasing burnout among physicians and trainees.

“Becoming a physician and leader in medicine requires not only life-long learning but self-awareness, altruism, emotional intelligence, a strong understanding of clinical ethics and many other aspects of professionalism that complement scientific skills,” says Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, MACP, Senior VP for the Health Sciences and Dean of the Renaissance School of Medicine. “This program ensures that we are educating not only some of the brightest medical minds of the future but also people who are mature and advanced in their professional identity.”

Renaissance School of Medicine students practicing patient interaction skills during a training session with an actor patient, part of the larger curriculum built into PIF.

The PIF program is rolled out in three phases: the foundational phase, when students first enter medical school and begin to learn about professionalism; the primary clinical phase, when students go through more clinical training sessions and complete clerkships; and the advanced clinical phase, when students work with their physician mentors and are involved with more difficult patient cases. The training is conceptualized around three approaches that integrate clinical ethics, virtues and humanities and the illness experience.

“Our PIF curriculum aims to influence ‘a way of being’ for our students in their professional path to becoming a doctor,” says Latha Chandran, MD, MPH, Vice Dean, Academic and Faculty Affairs and the Miriam and David Donoho and SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor. “The process is central for our students to discover their own professional identity which enables them to become the type of compassionate and dedicated physicians they envisioned when entering medical school.”

In 2019, Dr. Chandran and colleagues published a paper in Academic Psychiatry titled “Developing ‘a way of being’: Deliberate Approaches to Professional Identity Formation in Medical Education.” The paper outlines the Renaissance School of Medicine PIF program and can serve as a guide to teaching professionalism in medical education and making professional identity a priority within medical education.

Latha Chandran, MD

The Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics has worked closely with the School to create PIF to be a robust program that enhances the development of professional identity formation among all students. The Center will continue to be a leading contributor to the ongoing development of the PIF curriculum.

Founded in 1902, Alpha Omega Alpha is the national medical honor society. Its mission is to recognize high educational achievement, honor gifted teaching, encourage the development of leaders in academia and the community, support the ideals of humanism, and promote service to others.

The Renaissance School of Medicine will receive $10,000 for the Professionalism Award.


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