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Behavior Problems in Medical School Forecast Trouble

Disciplinary actions by medical boards often follow problem behavior in medical school

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Disciplinary action against practicing physicians is strongly linked to problem behavior in medical school, according to a study published in the Dec. 22 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Maxine A. Papadakis, M.D., of the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues studied 235 graduates of three medical schools who were disciplined by one of 40 state medical boards between 1990 and 2003, and compared them with 469 controls.

The researchers found disciplinary action by a medical board strongly associated with earlier unprofessional behavior in medical school, especially severe irresponsibility and a diminished capacity for self-improvement. Medical board action was also linked to low Medical College Admission Test scores, and poor grades in the first two years of medical school.

"Disciplinary action among practicing physicians by medical boards was strongly associated with unprofessional behavior in medical school," the authors write.

Having students consistently show medical professionalism is "the most important task facing medical educators today," according to an accompanying editorial.

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