Character development is an important, well-established initiative in many K-12 school programs; however, its emphasis in adult learning environments is less common. Medical school curricula have variable efforts devoted to instruction on “soft skills” such as communication skills, providing feedback, and enhancing teamwork, as well as professionalism and ethics, but offer little in character education. Likewise, faculty development programs are not focused on character education, despite recognition of the influence of faculty role models in students’ professional identity formation (Peterson 2004).
Recognizing the importance of character education in medicine, the Kern National Network for Caring & Character in Medicine (KNN) is developing a cross-institutional, longitudinal faculty development program designed to equip medical educators with skills in character education who will in turn be equipped to provide character education to students.
The goals of this program include:
- Building a community of educators focused on character in medical education.
- Strengthening faculty competence in character education.
The first phase of the project focuses on conducting a needs assessment and obtaining input from medical students, residents, and faculty.
Peterson, C.a.S., MEP, Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. A.P. Association. 2004, Washington, DC: Oxford University Press.
about the Good Physician project that informs aspects of this work.
As part of the Educating Character in Medicine project, medical students at three schools—Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin, the Medical College of Wisconsin, and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health—were invited to participate in a character essay contest, "Finding Inspiration: Character Exemplars."
This contest prompted students to reflect on the definition of character and a character exemplar who has influenced them. Each participating school is selecting a winner, and the winning essays will be added as they are announced.
Dell Medical School
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Medical College of Wisconsin
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To Be Announced
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health