A qualitative thematic content analysis of medical students' essays on professionalism

So Youn Park, Changwoo Shon, Oh Young Kwon, Tai Young Yoon, Ivo Kwon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Physicians in both Western and Eastern countries are being confronted by changes in health care delivery systems and medical professionalism values. The traditional concept of "In-Sul" (benevolent art) and the modern history of South Korea have led to cultural differences between South Korea and other countries in conceptualizing medical professionalism; thus, we studied medical students' perceptions of professionalism as described in essays written on this topic. Methods: In 2014, we asked 109 first-year medical students who were enrolled in a compulsory ethics course to anonymously write a description of an instance of medical professionalism that they had witnessed, as well as reflecting on their own professional context. We then processed 105 valid essays using thematic content analysis with computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software. Results: Thematic analysis of the students' essays revealed two core aspects of professionalism in South Korea, one focused on respect for patients and the other on physicians' accountability. The most common theme regarding physician-patient relationships was trust. By contrast, distributive justice was thought to be a non-essential aspect of professionalism. Conclusions: In Western countries, physicians tend to promote justice in the health care system, including fair distribution of medical resources; however, we found that medical students in South Korea were more inclined to emphasize doctors' relationships with patients. Medical educators should develop curricular interventions regarding medical professionalism to meet the legitimate needs of patients in their own culture. Because professionalism is a dynamic construct of culture, medical educators should reaffirm cultural context-specific definitions of professionalism for development of associated curricula.

Original languageEnglish
Article number79
JournalBMC Medical Education
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 3 May 2017

Keywords

  • Cultural differences
  • Curriculum development
  • Korea
  • Medical education
  • Medical students
  • Professionalism

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'A qualitative thematic content analysis of medical students' essays on professionalism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this