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The mission of the Academy is to optimize patient care through professionalism education, scholarship, policy and practice in all health-related fields.


APHC History

The Academy for Professionalism in Health Care (APHC) has its roots in a major national project undertaken to evaluate how medical ethics and humanities play a foundational role in professional formation in medical schools. The Project to Rebalance and Integrate Medical Education (PRIME) was funded by the Patrick and Edna Romanell Foundation for Bioethics pedagogy at the University at Buffalo with David Doukas as the Primary Investigator. PRIME was a three-stage, three-year project in which nationally known scholars and educators in medical ethics and humanities, as well as leaders of accrediting organizations, gathered to formulate a future vision of integrating medical ethics and humanities into professionalism education. The National Symposium held at the culmination of the PRIME project resulted in the formation of the Academy for Professionalism in Health Care.
The PRIME I Workshop (May 2010) undertook the first critical appraisal of the definitions, goals, and objectives of medical ethics and humanities teaching. A national expert panel of educators representing the disciplines of ethics, history, literature, and the visual arts was assembled. This panel was tasked with describing the major pedagogical goals of art, ethics, history, and literature in medical education: how these disciplines should be integrated with one another in medical education and how they could be best integrated into undergraduate and graduate medical education. Three main themes resulted from this panel’s deliberations. The major goal of medical education in ethics and humanities is to promote humanistic skills and professional conduct in physicians. Patient-centered skills enable learners to become medical professionals while critical thinking skills assist learners to critically appraise the concepts and implementation of medical professionalism. Implementation of a comprehensive medical ethics and humanities curriculum in medical school and residency requires clear direction and academic support and should be based on clear goals and objectives that can be reliably assessed. The PRIME I expert panel agreed that medical ethics and humanities education is essential for professional development in medicine.

The PRIME II Workshop (May 2011) enlisted representatives of the three major accrediting organizations to join with the PRIME I national expert panel. PRIME II faculty engaged in a dialogue on the future of professionalism in medical education. The participants discussed three overarching themes. The first theme highlighted that education toward professionalism requires transformational change, whereby medical ethics and humanities educators would make explicit the centrality of professionalism to the formation of physicians. The second theme emphasized that the flourishing of professionalism must be based on addressing the dysfunctional aspects of the current system of health care delivery and financing that undermine the goals of medical education. The third theme focused on how ethics and humanities educators must have unity of vision and purpose to collaborate and identify how their disciplines advance professionalism. The participants agreed that improvement of the ethics and humanities-based knowledge, skills, and conduct that fosters professionalism should enhance patient care and be evaluated for its distinctive contributions to practices that lead to better patient outcomes. 

The PRIME National Conference on Medical Ethics and Humanities in Medical Education (May 2012) invited representatives from three major medical education and accreditation organizations to engage with an expert panel of nationally known medical educators in ethics, history, literature, and the visual arts, before a large audience of educators, scholars, and clinical professionals. The Symposium offered a future-tense account of how professionalism can be incorporated into medical education, with four main themes. The first theme highlighted how ethics and humanities can provide a response to the dissonance that occurs in current health care delivery. The second theme focused on how to facilitate pre-professional readiness for applicants through reform of the medical school admission process. The third theme emphasized the importance of integrating ethics and humanities into the medical school administrative structure. The fourth theme underscored how outcomes-based assessment should reflect developmental milestones for professional attributes and conduct. The participants emphasized that ethics and humanities-based knowledge, skills, and conduct that promote professionalism should be taught with accountability, flexibility, and the premise that all these traits are essential to the formation of a modern professional physician. It was clear at the conclusion of the symposium there was a strong desire to continue the work that was started with PRIME.

APHC was founded in the spring of 2012 as a natural product of the PRIME National Symposium with an expanded vision as an organization devoted to healthcare professionalism education and research, to include all healthcare training programs, including interprofessional professionalism education.  APHC’s publications provided an account of healthcare professionalism as having three components: scientific and clinical competence, use of clinical knowledge and skills primarily for sustaining the patient’s health-related interests and keeping self-interest secondary, and maintaining the healthcare professions as a public trust. One goal of the newly created Academy for Professionalism in Health Care was to provide a forum for all stakeholders, including healthcare ethics, humanities, and professionalism educators, to come together to work on these challenging issues.

The purpose of APHC is to support the development and maintenance of educational programs that promote professionalism in health care. The overriding goal of the Academy's work is to serve patients' best interests by advancing accountable educational programs, policies, and methodologies that exhort current and future health care providers to provide care consistent with the highest ethical and professional standards.