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Teaching Professionalism in Surgery (MEDS90013)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5Not available in 2019

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Year of offerNot available in 2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeMEDS90013
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Professional skills are an essential component of surgical practice. Examples of professional skills include situational awareness, decision-making, communication and teamwork skills. These have have received relatively little attention in medical and surgical curricula compared with other surgical skills and have often not been formally taught but expected to be learned through modelling and experience. This is no longer sufficient or ethical for learning in the workplace.

RACS now specifies a range of competencies expected of surgeons, which include professional, health advocate, communicator, collaborator, manager/leader and scholar/teacher. This subject explores ways in which these competencies can be taught and assessed.

Emphasis will be placed on some of these surgical competencies and the challenges associated with their teaching. Although communication is a core clinical skill, it is often taught in isolation from other clinical skills. We adopt a broad definition of communication – interactions in person or written with patients, their relatives, peers and other health professionals. The influence of technology on communication is considered. The content and educational methods most effective for learning about communication are explored. There is an opportunity to study in depth the role of simulation.

Safe surgical practice depends on many factors of which effective teamwork is paramount. The patient safety movement and drivers from within the profession have raised the profile of structured teaching and learning on teamwork. We draw on experiences from high risk industries and consider their application to promoting effective teamwork in surgical practice.

The overall aims of this subject are:

  • Identify key professionalism issues in surgical practice
  • Develop strategies to address development of professionalism in surgical training
  • Identify issues that impact on professionalism and ways to support its development
  • Expand the impact of role models on individual, group and organisational behaviour
  • Outline training content and strategies for specific elements of professionalism, including person centred communication and teamwork.
  • Reflect on their own teaching practice in professional skills highlighting strengths and areas for development.

Intended learning outcomes

After completing the subject participants should be able to:

  • Discuss professionalism in the context of surgical practice
  • Reflect on contemporary practices in teaching and learning about professionalism in medical and surgical education
  • Identify lapses of professionalism in surgical practice
  • Design educational activities to address lapses in professionalism
  • Outline basic interpersonal communication theory
  • Describe principles of effective team work
  • Reflect on their own teaching practice in professionalism highlighting strengths and areas for development

Generic skills

  • Successfully integrate technical (e.g. medical / surgical) with other professional skills (e.g. communication, teamwork)
  • Approaches to teaching using simulation models and understanding of the benefits and limitations of these models
  • Study skills related to a range of educational methods
  • Academic reading skills
  • Academic writing
  • Applying theory to practice
  • Reference manager skills
  • Work effectively within a small group
  • Learn independently

Last updated: 27 June 2019