LAHORE - The first prize distribution ceremony of the Project Professionalism Punjab was held at the University of Health Sciences (UHS) on Friday.

King Edward Medical College ex-principal Prof Mahmood Ali Malik, and noted cardiologist from Karachi Prof Maqbool H Jafri distributed cash prizes among the winners.

UHS has launched this novel project to foster medical professionalism identity in medical students and health professionals. Project Professionalism Punjab is based on the idea of narrative writing to enhance self-reflection and empathy, which opens the door for deeper understanding of patients and health professionals’ experiences of illness.

Similarly, it promotes good practices and ethics in medicine. Every month in this project, one caricature sequence, one photograph and one video is uploaded on UHS website. Medical students, residents and faculty are invited to write a short story, on the basis of the uploaded content, reflecting their own personal similar experiences and commenting on the best practices in healthcare delivery across the globe and how they would have evolved.

These stories are then evaluated at the end of the month and the best is awarded a cash prize. Besides, top three stories are uploaded on UHS website.

For the month of January 2015, the prize for best story on caricature sequence was won by Amna Riaz of Avicenna Medical College, Lahore, for picture story by Dr Sara Khalid Khan, and the prize for best story based on a video clip was given to Ammara Aftab of Avicenna Medical College, Lahore. They were given cash prize of Rs5000 each.

Speaking at the ceremony, Prof Malik said that the core of professionalism comprised those attributes and behaviours that served to maintain patient interests above physician self-interest. “Professionalism, however, extends beyond interactions with patients,” he added. Professionalism also involved the relationships between physicians and other health professionals. It should pervade all of activities in medicine, the veteran physician maintained.

Prof Jafri said that professionalism embodied the relationship between medicine and society as it formed the basis of patient-physician trust. He added that medicine was a moral endeavour, which demanded integrity, competence, and high ethical standards among other key attributes.

UHS Vice Chancellor Maj-Gen (r) Prof Muhammad Aslam said that the university would keep on promoting positive activities among its students.

In-charge of the project, UHS Pro-Vice Chancellor, Prof Junaid S Khan said that the basic objective was to examine and understand the development of concepts of professionalism across the learner’s lifespan of students, trainees and faculty.

“We also want to understand the influence of environment, society, culture, education, parenting, in essence the social fabric, on the development of the medical professional identity”, Prof Junaid expounded, adding that it was first-of-its-kind project in the country.

He was of the view that there was a hidden wealth in reflective writing through narratives, which have promising potential for application in medical education. He urged medical students and faculty to take part in the activity.

Hundreds of medical student, senior faculty members and principals of affiliated colleges attended the event.