The Kern Institute defines character as the complex constellation of psychological characteristics that motivates and enables individuals to act as moral agents. These characteristics are developmentally dependent and contextually formed over time. Character manifests in dispositions and practices, which are influenced by situations and valued according to the sociocultural context. We encourage strong character and good judgement in attributes such as fairness, honesty, kindness, leadership, trust, integrity, and teamwork.
Kern and Character
Definition of Character for Medical Education
- Character is the complex constellation of psychological characteristics that motivates and enables individuals to act as moral agents.
- These characteristics are developmentally dependent and contextually formed over time.
- Character manifests in dispositions and practices, which are influenced by situations and valued according to the sociocultural context.
Work in Character
- Created and adopted character definition
- Employed character definition within each of the KNN’s seven medical schools
- Hosted a national webinar series focused on character, competence and caring
How we developed Character definition
- Formed workgroup dedicated to developing character definition
- Engaged with national experts, e.g., Jubilee Centre, Christian Miller
- Reviewed various models and frameworks
- Held series of KNN-engaged discussions beginning in June 2017
- Reviewed proposed character definition (March 2018 KNN meeting)
- Disseminated definition across KNN workgroups
- Formed writing team to begin publication of definition in literature
- Began implementing definition of character across our KNN work
Examples of how we are employing the Character definition
- Topic stewards for medical education curriculum (UCSF)
- Integration into student orientation and first year Foundations of Medicine courses (Vanderbilt)
- Launching series of grand round speakers (Dell)
- Using definition in new coaching program for faculty and students (Geisel)
- Integrated into Innovation Proposal Process as well as KINETIC3 teaching academy for faculty (MCW)
- Student discussion sessions reflecting on case studies of good character (UW)
- Integrating character into culture communications (Mayo)
The Character in Medical Education webinar was presented on Wednesday, September 12, 2018, to a live national audience.
Ryan Spellecy, PhD
Professor of Bioethics and Medical Humanities
Medical College of Wisconsin
Christian Miller, PhD
Professor of Philosophy
Wake Forest University and Author of The Character Gap
Andrea Leep Hunderfund, MD
Assistant Professor of Neurology
Mayo Clinic School of Medicine.
Presented by Larry R. Churchill, PhD, on June 15, 2018, at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
Presented by Christian B. Miller, PhD, on April 19, 2018, at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Article authored by David M. Irby, MDiv, PhD, and Stanley J. Hamstra, PhD.
Academic Medicine | December 2016
The Jubilee Centre is a pioneering interdisciplinary research centre focusing on character, virtues and values in the interest of human flourishing.
Attribution: Andrea Leep Hunderfund, MD, MHPE, Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine