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Acad Med. 2005 Oct;80(10 Suppl):S17-20.

Domains of unprofessional behavior during medical school associated with future disciplinary action by a state medical board.

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  • 1University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, Office of Medical Education, 521 Parnassus Avenue Room C-254, San Francisco, CA 94143-0410, USA.



In a previous study, we showed that unprofessional behavior in medical school was associated with subsequent disciplinary action. This study expands on that work by identifying the domains of unprofessional behavior that are most problematic.


In this retrospective case-control study, negative comments were extracted from student files for 68 case (disciplined) and 196 matched control (nondisciplined) physicians. Comments were analyzed qualitatively and subsequently quantified. The relationship between domains of behavior and disciplinary action was established through chi-square tests and multivariate analysis of variance.


Three domains of unprofessional behavior emerged that were related significantly to later disciplinary outcome: (1) poor reliability and responsibility, (2) lack of self-improvement and adaptability, and (3) poor initiative and motivation.


Three critical domains of professionalism associated with future disciplinary action have been defined. These findings could lead to focused remediation strategies and policy decisions.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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