Dr. Marianne Mak-van der Vossen awarded by NRO

The Dutch Research Council (NRO) has awarded a Comenius Teaching Fellowship to Dr. Marianne Mak-van der Vossen, medical educator and researcher at the Faculty of Medicine VU, for the project entitled ‘Silence is olden, speech is golden’, which aims to develop and implement a so-called Minimal Intervention Strategy that supports educators in identifying and attending to students’ unprofessional behaviour. Unprofessional behaviour is defined as behaviour that indicates a lack of one of ‘the 4 I’s’: Involvement, Integrity, Interaction and Introspection.

27-05-2020 | 11:10

Quality of health care depends on doctors behaving professionally. A medical student’s unprofessional behaviour predicts later unprofessional behaviour as a physician. That’s why professionalism is an important topic in medical education. Despite the importance of responding, educators tend to keep silent when confronted with a student behaving unprofessionally. They lack the knowledge and practical skills to efficiently and effectively attend to such behaviour.
Findings from Marianne Mak’s recent PhD-thesis provide guidance to faculty how to detect, identify and respond to medical students’ unprofessional behaviour. The next step is to develop a practical instrument to use in regular teaching. In this Comenius project, teachers and students will jointly create such an instrument, the Minimal Intervention Strategy to attend to unprofessional student behaviour. Subsequently, an online teaching module will be developed. Both will help teachers to overcome their silence and start speaking about unprofessional behaviour with their students.  
The Minimal Intervention Strategy is beneficial for both educators and students. Educators learn how to discuss unprofessional behaviour, which will diminish their reluctance to do so. The student who (often unintendedly) shows unprofessional behaviour will receive timely feedback and support to improve. Other students will see how their teachers attend to unprofessional behaviour and will learn from that role modeling. This way, a successful implementation of the Minimal Intervention Strategy will put speech in place of silence, and thus help teachers to guide their students to become professionally behaving doctors.