Medical student opinions on character development in medical education: a national survey.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

BACKGROUND: Recently United States (US) medical schools have implemented curricular reforms to address issues of character in medical education. Very few studies have examined students' opinions about the importance of character development in medical school. This cross-sectional study assessed US medical students' opinions regarding character-focused education and their experiences receiving character feedback from educators. We mailed a questionnaire to 960 third year medical students from 24 medical schools. Respondents received a second questionnaire during their fourth year. Students answered three items that assessed their opinions regarding character development in medical education. They also indicated the frequency of positive/negative feedback regarding their character traits. We also tested associations between these opinions and various demographic, religious and spiritual characteristics. We used the χ(2) test to examine bivariate associations between each demographic/religious characteristic and students' opinions on character development or feedback. RESULTS: Excluding 41 ineligible respondents, the adjusted response rate for the first questionnaire was 61 % (n = 564/919) and 84 % (n = 474/564) for the follow-up questionnaire. Twenty-eight percent of students agreed that one could be a good physician without being a good person; 39 % agreed that educators should focus on science instead of students' characters; 72 % agreed that it was educators' responsibility to train students to have good character; 1 % of students reported no positive feedback from faculty regarding character traits; 50 % reported no negative feedback. CONCLUSIONS: US students in clinical clerkships receive predominately positive feedback from educators regarding character traits. A majority of medical students, regardless of demographic and religious characteristics, are receptive to the role of character development in medical education. This finding suggests that character-based approaches toward ethics and professionalism training may find renewed receptivity among medical students despite recent "professionalism movement" fatigue.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Carey, GB; Curlin, FA; Yoon, JD

Published Date

  • September 18, 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 8 /

Start / End Page

  • 455 -

PubMed ID

  • 26384970

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC4575457

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1756-0500

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1186/s13104-015-1434-z


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England