Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Institute for the Transformation of Medical Education

Understanding Medical Professional Identity and Character Development Symposium

Friday, April 28, 2023 | 8:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. CDT

Professional identity formation (PIF), as defined by Wear and Castellani (2000), is the “ongoing self-reflective process involving habits of thinking, feeling, and acting” as a physician. The holistic development of these capacities of PIF can be interpreted as essential qualities of one's character and integrity.

Education in the professions must design learning environments that center self-reflection within the PIF curriculum and provide growth opportunities that challenge while offering support and guidance for PIF growth, as well as the learner's well-being.

In this symposium, we aim to convene medical education researchers, instructors, and others to engage on the state of PIF research, the goals, and interests of attendees, going beyond the confines of reductionist approaches. Our overarching goal is to transcend to holistic and humanistic integration spaces, weaving a central thread that is crucial to the person’s professional self.

Keynote Presentation

Can You Imagine How Far They've Come?: PIF As Immigration

Lara Varpio, PhD

Professor, Department of Pediatrics
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
Co-Director of Research in Medical Education
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Lara Varpio, PhD

Target Audience

This symposium is intended for:

  • Educators, practitioners, and learners interested in character and professional identity development
  • Professionals interested in research with practical applications
  • Visionaries who are curious to meet others in this growing, exciting field

Educational Method

This fully virtual session will include:

  • Welcome Remarks
  • Keynote Address
  • Panel Discussions
  • Discussion Breakout Groups (interactive session)
  • Closing Remarks

Symposium Registration

Registration is required through Zoom Events. There is no fee to attend. Upon registering, you will be issued a link that will be unique to you and cannot be shared. Be sure to do the calendar download as a placeholder for your calendar.

A Zoom account is required to register.

NOTE: If you are registering using a work-based Zoom account, you will access the session on April 28 as you normally would from that work account.

Register now

How Do I Register/How Do I Access the Symposium?

Logging in to Zoom Events can be a bit unique. We are here to help! To ensure you are able to join the session on time on April 28, please pre-register and consider logging in and making sure you can see “the Lobby” in advance (you can even try as early as today if you are already registered!).

If you are unable to register or to sign in and navigate to the Lobby, please reference the Logging Into Zoom Events (PDF) document.

Still not able to log in? Contact Michael Braun at with questions.

2022 Symposium

This year’s symposium was held on Friday, April 30, 2022 virtually with over 150 participants.


Tasha Wyatt, PhD, MA
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
"Endarkening the Episteme: Professional Identity Formation in Black/African American Physicians"

View video


Lisa Altshuler, PhD and Lynn Buckvar-Keltz, MD
From Orientation to Graduation: Sustaining a Longitudinal PIF Assessment Curriculum (Video)

Verna Monson, PhD
Professionalism Remediation as a Growth Process: Applying Identity-Aware Principles of PIF in Coaching Learners

Hedy Wald, PhD and Shmuel Reis, MD, MHPE
Medicine, Nazism and the Holocaust: Essential Topics for All Health Professions Education (Video)

John Luk, MD, et al.
Becoming: Humanities-Based Enrichment for Character Development and Professional Identity Formation

Brown Bag Lunch Reading Groups

Tasha Wyatt, PhD, Discussion Group
View pre-readingsView video

Sabena Jameel, PhD
The Practically-Wise Physician
View pre-readings | View video

John Yoon, MD and Daniel Kim, MD
Is PIF Enough? A Discussion on PIF and Virtue Ethics
View pre-readings | View video

Jeff Fritz, PhD
Should medical PIF define a guiding ‘ideal’ for the formation process? If so what is this ‘North Star’?
View pre-readings | View video

Concluding Session

Thoughts from Dr. Adina Kalet, followed by thoughts from discussion group leaders:

  • John Yoon, MD and Daniel Kim, MD
  • Jeff Fritz, PhD
  • Sabena Jameel, PhD
  • Tasha Wyatt, PhD

View Video

2021 Symposium

This virtual symposium was held on April 30, 2021.

Download 2021 symposium booklet (PDF)


Adina Kalet, MD, MPH
It Is About Trust: Why We Need To Measure Medical Professional Identity And Character Development


View video


The Nature of Learning Communities and the Goals of Medical Education (Video)
David Hatem, MD; William Agbor-Baiyee, PhD; Kurt Pfeifer, MD; Maya G. Sardesai, MD, MEd

Curricular Approaches to Facilitating Professional Identity Formation (Video)
Lynn Buckvar-Keltz, MD and Adina Kalet, MD, MPH

Minding What Matters: A Learner-Centered Coaching Process for Professional Identity (Trans)formation (Video)
Verna Monson, PhD; Aja King, EdD, LPCC; Cedric Weatherspoon, MA, Candidate EdD, LMFT

Conducting Research in Professional Identity Formation (Video)
Presentation Summary (PDF)
Adina Kalet, MD, MPH

Reflection, Narrative, and Professional Identity Formation (Video)
Presentation Summary (PDF)
Penelope Lusk, MS

Philosophies of Professional Identity Formation and Character Development (Video)
Presentation Summary (PDF)
Fabrice Jotterand

Professional Identity Formation Across the Health Professions (Video)
Presentation Summary (PDF)
Verna Monson, PhD