BACKGROUND: Medical Professionalism is recognized as a cultural construct. We explore perceptions of the severity of lapses in professionalism of undergraduate medical students at two medical schools with different cultural contexts.
METHODS: Respondents from two medical schools (Saudi Arabia & UK) recommended sanctions for the first time, unmitigated lapses in academic professionalism, using the Dundee Polyprofessionalism Inventory 1: Academic Integrity.
RESULTS: While more than two-thirds of the recommended sanctions for the 30 items of poor professionalism were fully or nearly congruent among the 1125 respondents, there were substantial differences in recommended response for one-third of the items, with a strong tendency for the Saudi students to recommend more lenient sanctions than the Scottish students.
CONCLUSION: The strategy of using recommended sanctions as a proxy for the perception of the severity of different lapses in professionalism may be a useful tool in learning and teaching academic professionalism among medical students in different cultural contexts.