Simplistic diagnosis

July 16, 2009

I was surprised to read under the headline "Medics riled by tests of professional behaviour" (9 July) that I had "defended" our work on professionalism among medical students, since this suggests that I was responding to the attacks described in the article. No such criticisms were put to me.

The requirement that we explore professionalism in medical students comes from the General Medical Council and guidance published in the wake of the Shipman inquiry. Professionalism measures are widely employed, but to be honest, none of them is very good. If we can develop better ones, medical students and society will benefit.

The disappointing thing about the article was not the criticism of our views, or even the implicit misrepresentation of events: it was the characterisation of a complex problem as one of oppositions - of "riled" medical students resisting attempts to "spy" on them.

John C. McLachlan, Associate dean of medicine, University of Durham.

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