Medicine is considered to be the classic example of a profession. The term Professionalism embraces a set of attitudes, skills and behaviours, attributes and values which are expected from those to whom society has extended the privilege of being considered a Professional.

The underlying assumption that necessitates professionalism in medicine is the understanding that practicing medicine is a moral endeavour, requiring a rigorous application of behavioural and ethical standards in combination with scientific training and the ability to care for humans in distress with compassion and empathy.

All definitions of Professionalism include 3 elements:

  • a physician has mastered a body of knowledge and skills, and this knowledge and training is to be used in the service of others,
  • the expectation that physicians will uphold the highest standards of ethical and professional behaviour in all their actions and activities,
  • the practice of medicine involves a contract of trust between patient and doctor – a social (moral) contract termed a fiduciary relationship. This contract with society allows us to regulate ourselves, both personally and professionally.

One of our central tasks at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Medicine is to instill and evaluate the values of medical professionalism in our students and to facilitate the development of their professional identity in preparing them for their future role as physicians caring for people who are ill.

The Core Values of Professionalism include:

  • Honesty and Integrity
  • Altruism
  • Respect
  • Responsibility and Accountability
  • Compassion and Empathy
  • Dedication and Self-improvement

In parallel, we the teaching faculty are given the responsibility for ascertaining that our students have the knowledge and skills to embark on the next stage of their preparation to become doctors, either family practitioners or specialists.

This website was created to explain to medical students (and others) what is meant by the term medical professionalism and why it is of utmost importance for them, now and in their future. It was written by a medical student in the summer prior to her clerkship year under the supervision of Dr. Walter Hendelman, former chair of professionalism at the faculty of medicine, University of Ottawa.



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The Faculty of Medicine, Office of Professionalism, recognizes how important it is to acknowledge the exemplary professionalism of members of our community (clinicians, researchers, learners, trainees, and staff). 

We, therefore, encourage you to submit a Kudos to the Office of Professionalism via email at [email protected].  It will take just a few moments of your time!  Please ensure to include in the following information in your nomination.

  • First and last name of the nominee(s)
  • First and last name of the nominator(s)
  • Type of nomination (individual or team)
  • Description of event / initiative to support the nomination

We would like to commend those who demonstrate and engage with the professional attitudes and behaviours which are in line with the Faculty’s core values

A copy of the nomination will be shared with the Vice-Dean of the respective academic unit and or the nominee’s direct supervisor for support.

For more information, please contact the Office of Professionalism at [email protected]