oa African Journal of Health Professions Education - Developing an outcomes-based charter to direct teaching and assessment of medical professionalism

Volume 7, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5127



Components of professionalism in undergraduate medical studies at the University of Pretoria (UP) were previously defined as nine 'Golden Threads'. Although specific outcomes were formulated for the threads, the need for more explicit professional standards became increasingly evident. The restructuring of the health system in South Africa contributed to the need for more explicit standards. The Charter for Medical Professionalism was developed during 2006 - 2008 as a reference document within the local context to serve as a standard for professionalism in the medical curriculum. Another aim was to guide academics in medical studies to act as good role models of professional behaviour.

To document the development of the Charter for Medical Professionalism and to evaluate lecturer and student perceptions on the formulation of the Charter to make appropriate changes and increase acceptance.
The project took the form of action research, and a working group comprising academics from UP's Faculty of Health Sciences developed the Charter from relevant source documents, employing thematic and content analysis and recursive abstraction. An online survey was conducted to assess lecturer and student acceptance of the Charter.
The outcomes-based approach was perceived as acceptable and appears to broaden the scope of assessment of professionalism.
Inclusion of outcomes proposed by other work groups relating to research, practice management, teaching, mentoring and leadership roles of the medical doctor may be considered in future.

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