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Clinical Excellence: More than Skills and Knowledge

RockwellDoctor and The Doll, a classic Norman Rockwell painting that graced the cover of The Saturday Evening Post in 1929, harkens back to a simpler time, when the kindly family doctor was always available and willing to take care of any ‘patient,’  human or otherwise.

The increasing complexity of medicine has changed that scenario.  To be sure, advances in medicine have significantly benefitted patients, with more accurate diagnoses and more successful treatments.  But they’ve come at a cost: depersonalized care.  While superior clinical knowledge and skills are essential, clinical excellence comprises much more.  Like compassion. And integrity. And open lines of communication, not only with patients and their families but also with colleagues at all levels.

The Academy of Master Clinicians, a new program at Penn Medicine, will help ensure that qualities such as these extend throughout its health system as well as into the practices of future physicians. “Clinical excellence in and of itself is a value that Penn Medicine recognizes and wishes to promote,” said John Glick, MD, president, Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute; vice president, UPHS; and associate dean for Resource Development, who helped create the program. “What we do for our patients is of critical importance to our missions of research, clinical care and education.” 

Recognizing clinical excellence is not new at Penn. Since the late 1990s, the I.S. Ravdin Award of Clinical Excellence has recognized Penn physicians “who epitimized all roles of the outstanding clinician.  Someone to whom physicians would send a member of their own family.  A doctor’s doctor,” Glick said.  The award was named for the surgeon who came to symbolize clinical medicine at Penn. 

The Academy of Master Clinicians has expanded that concept, not only recognizing this level of physicians but having them “work as a group to promote clinical excellence throughout the health system.”  According to Glick, Master Clinicians will lead faculty workshops through Advance, the Perelman School of Medicine’s faculty professional development program, as well as other Penn Medicine educational programs. They will also provide feedback to leadership to improve the patient and educational experiences and serve as role models and mentors. In addition, by attending extramural courses, Master Clinicians will enhance their own career skills and bring new knowledge to Penn Medicine.  All those elected to the Academy will receive a one-time financial award of $10,000 and more time to dedicate to educational and training pursuits.

Candidates for membership in the Academy -- the highest clinical honor bestowed on a Penn physician --will possess:

  • Exceptional clinical skills and knowledge in their field.
  • Excellent judgment, integrity, and exemplary interpersonal and communication skills, treating all patients equally, acting as a patient advocate, and demonstrating compassion and empathy toward patients.
  • Qualities of an outstanding educator, role model and mentor who exemplifies the highest levels of professionalism.

The first group of Master Clinicians will be chosen later this year.  Subsequent members will be selected on a yearly basis. 

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Views expressed are those of the author or other attributed individual and do not necessarily represent the official opinion of the related Department(s), University of Pennsylvania Health System (Penn Medicine), or the University of Pennsylvania, unless explicitly stated with the authority to do so.

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