Racial-Ethnic Differences in Medical Students’ Experiences of Professionalism: A Mixed-Methods Study

Lavjay Butani, Ana Maria Iosif, Alyn Kelley, Omar Washington, Andreea L Seritan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Professionalism in the medical environment is a complex construct, dependent as much on the learner as on the context and climate. There are no data on how experiences of learners, related to professionalism, vary by learner ethnicity. Purpose: Explore ethnic differences in medical student experiences of professionalism. Methods: Quantitative and qualitative data from a survey of medical students exploring opinions and experiences related to professionalism were used. Two investigators categorized narratives into themes. Statistical analyses included Fisher’s exact and Wilcoxon tests. Results: 114 of 331 (34%) students (55% Caucasian) responded. Caucasians more frequently (73% versus 43%, p 0.002) found peer role models to be effective teachers of professionalism. Non-Caucasians more often reported unprofessional behaviors from faculty, staff or administration (55% versus 39%, p 0.03); these pertained more commonly to interpersonal interactions. Conclusions: Compared to other ethnicities, Caucasian students identify peer role models more frequently as teachers of professionalism. Non-Caucasian students more often report unprofessional behaviors from faculty, staff, or administration. This may arise from differences in perception, true bias or both.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-268
Number of pages10
JournalMedical Science Educator
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2013


  • Ethnicity
  • Learning climate
  • Mistreatment
  • Professionalism
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Education


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