OBJECTIVES : Amidst calls for improved professionalism, this study examined the professionalism of psychiatry registrars at Weskoppies Hospital as evaluated by their patients, themselves, their consultants and other health practitioners. The second objective was to examine the perceived importance of aspects of professionalism and compare these descriptively among the various health practitioners and patients.
METHOD : Participants completed the Professionalism Mini-Evaluation Exercise Questionnaire in evaluating the professionalism of the registrar. The number of questionnaires completed by patients, allied health practitioners, consultant psychiatrists and psychiatry registrars were, respectively, 100, 50, 25 and 20; thus, 195 in total. This previously validated questionnaire consists of 21 items that enquire about doctor-patient relationship skills, reflective skills, time management and interprofessional relationship skills. Participants also ranked the three items of the questionnaire that they considered most important.
RESULTS : Highly statistically significant differences among four groups emerged for both the total and all four subscale scores, with patients generally rating the professionalism of registrars as lower, and not meeting with expectations. All four groups ranked 'listened actively to patient' and 'showed interest in patient as person' highly. Patients and allied health practitioners ranked the attribute 'was on time' highly, while consultants and registrars did not.
CONCLUSION : Improving professionalism requires that the attributes 'listening actively to patient' and 'recognising and meeting patient needs' are taken seriously. Doing so requires that patients also evaluate the professionalism of registrars, rather than relying merely on the evaluation by consultants as being sufficient.