A New Professional: The Aims of Education Revisited

Do you “go with the flow” at your institution (school, office) because it’s the easy thing to do — even though it doesn’t feel right? Parker Palmer explores the current education system, how it shapes students as future professionals, and his proposal for the new professional.


Learning Objectives

After reading this article, students will be able to:

  • Compare the author’s proposal for a new professional and contrast the description to his/her experience when transitioning from student to professional.


Discussion Group Questions

  1. Do you agree with the author's five proposals to educate the new professional? Why or why not? Also, is he missing something on this list?      
  2. The author notes, “The institutions in which we work often threaten our professional values.” Have you ever been in a situation in which you felt this way? Did you do anything about it? If so, what did you do?
  3. Palmer states, “If institutions are rigid, it is because we fear change.” Is your institution, be it a school or health care organization, rigid? Can you make changes? Please explain. 
  4. The author also affirms that mentors must be exemplars of an undivided life. Do you have teachers, mentors, preceptors, or attendings that embody this concept? If so, who and what is an example of this behavior?
  5. Do health professionals have a different (level of) responsibility in knowing and recognizing the meaning of situations? (See the example of the resident and the organ transplant.) If so, how and why are they different?


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