Enhancing Ethics and Professionalism in the College of Dentistry
After more than a year of focused effort, the College of Dentistry recently completed its five-year Strategic Plan that includes new vision, mission, and core values statements; six overarching goals with 3-5 objectives each; and 106 initiatives. Knowing that it wasn’t possible to tackle every initiative at once, a prioritizing tool was used to facilitate discussions. It was determined that the first initiative should be one that impacts all college operations and constituent groups, and it should be foundational to all the other strategic initiatives. Enhancing the college’s ethics and professionalism was chosen as the launching initiative for those reasons and others.*
An ethics and professionalism work group comprised of 26 students, staff, and faculty was assembled. They’ve met monthly since September and will continue to meet through May. The group is led by Dawne Stefanik, DDS, an Assistant Professor-Clinical in the Division of Restorative and Prosthetic Dentistry, who is also the director of the college’s ethics course for pre-doctoral students. Commenting on Dr. Stefanik’s role as Chair of the Ethics and Professionalism Work Group, Dean Patrick Lloyd said, “It’s important to have a faculty member who is well-versed on the subject of ethics and professionalism to serve as chair of this group, and to help us champion this initiative throughout the college.”
The work group is addressing points that surfaced after a 2016 college-wide survey on professionalism. A total of 491 students, staff, and faculty members responded for a participation rate of 51.3%. The results showed that participants felt there was a high level of professionalism throughout the college, but 25.3%, 33.3% and 27.7% of students, staff, and faculty, respectively, identified a need to further enhance professionalism.
With that in mind, the group’s goals include finding ways to increase awareness of the importance of ethics and professionalism among all members of the college community; developing an ethics and professionalism curriculum for the college’s educational programs; identifying behaviors that exemplify a commitment to ethics and professionalism; and creating criteria to recognize and reinforce exceptional demonstrations of ethics and professionalism. Dr. Stefanik remarked on the progress that has already been made, saying, “We are moving forward to cultivate a deeper awareness of our shared values, and to develop initiatives that will engage the college community and help foster interactions that embrace the ethical principles that exemplify professionalism.”
Dean Lloyd summarized the significance of the initiative. “Professionalism is a foundational element in the culture of our college, and it is central to fulfilling our tripartite mission of education, research, and service,” he said. “We hope to be recognized nationally for our emphasis on ethics and professionalism, in the same way that Ohio State is recognized for football. With such a reputation, we will recruit students, staff, and faculty who share these values and whose efforts will have a positive impact on our profession for decades to come.”