■ Professionalism and ethics:

Integrating professional duties, societal expectations and personal wellbeing

Reflections on professionalism

Published: August 2021

Type of activity: Narrative

Activity summary

Writing about one's personal experience encourages self-reflection and improves self-awareness. In this activity students are invited to reflect, in writing, on their experiences of professionalism. Faculty may choose to have students personally explore professionalism (e.g. keep a journal), or share their narratives as part of an interactive small group session.

Note: Do not use open medico-legal cases. Patient and provider privacy and confidentiality must be maintained at all times. No names or other identifiers should be used.

Activity description

Ask learners to write about an event they observed or were involved in during their medical training or practice that they feel relates to an aspect of professionalism. Alternatively, learners may want to write about an event that occurred to them as recipients of healthcare, or as an observer to their friends' or family members' healthcare experiences.

Suggested content for the narrative:

  • a description of the event
  • an explanation of how this event relates to professionalism
  • the learner's reflections on the event including:
    • why and how the event occurred
    • what went well
    • what did they do, or would have liked to have done about the event (speaking up)
    • what happened if they spoke up
    • what happened if they did not speak up
    • how do they feel now

Suggestions to faculty

Faculty may choose to have learners share their narratives, if they feel comfortable doing so, as part of an interactive small group session.

Examples of questions that may be used to debrief the learners' experience:

  • What did you learn that was new?
  • What challenged what you knew before?
  • How did this event affect you?
  • What did you take away that you will use in the future?
  • I would do something differently next time because….

Additional resources

CanMEDS: Medical Expert, Health Advocate, Collaborator, Leader, Scholar, Communicator, Professional

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this learning material is for general educational purposes only and is not intended to provide specific professional medical or legal advice, nor to constitute a "standard of care" for Canadian healthcare professionals. The use of CMPA learning resources is subject to the foregoing as well as the CMPA's Terms of Use.