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Patient Educ Couns. 2010 Sep;80(3):327-32. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2010.04.022. Epub 2010 Jun 8.

The road to professionalism: reflective practice and reflective learning.

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  • 1Emory University School of Medicine, 49 Jesse Hill Jr Drive, Suite 446, Atlanta, GA 30303, United States.



This paper describes educational programs designed to create humanistic physicians who are skilled in communicating with patients and committed to professional values. The educational programs addressed these goals in medical students, residents and young faculty members over a 22-year period. Evaluations enhanced understanding and documented outcomes of the programs.


Detailed descriptions of the design and educational methods employed by the programs are given, along with results of their evaluations.


Key features of the educational programs that effectively influenced learners' skills, values, attitudes, and behaviors include: (a) longitudinal learning in small groups, (b) creating a supportive group process, (c) prominent inclusion of reflective learning, and (d) experiential learning of skills. Qualitative analyses provided an understanding of the learning processes and the transformative nature of the programs. Surveys and questionnaires documented statistically significant outcomes achieving the programs' goals.


Longitudinal educational programs employing critical reflection alongside mastery of skills enhance humanistic values and may have transformative effects on their learners. PRACTICAL IMPLICATION: The descriptions and outcomes described herein for medical students, residents and young faculty members may suggest blueprints for future educational efforts aimed at producing humanistic professionals.

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