The teacher as a role model to its students: perspectives from the health area

Luciana Costa Silva, Maria de Fátima Aveiro Colares, Maria Paula Panúncio Pinto, Luiz Ernesto de Almeida Troncon


Student education and training in the health professions involve acquisition of general and specific skills and competencies which happens throughout practical experiences under the supervision of teachers or clinical tutors. Supervisor characteristics may influence students and guide them in building their professional identity. In this context, a role model is defined as the professional whose positive qualities are likely to be imitated by the students, as they demonstrated skills and personal characteristics that impress and inspire them. Positive role models exhibit professional expertise, good communication and relationships with patients and students, good teaching skills and, most importantly, personal characteristics such as integrity, compassion and enthusiasm. On the other hand, students seem to be able to recognize undesirable negative attributes as opposed to the positive ones. Our studies suggest that the perception of Brazilian students on models attributes does not differ from what is described in the international literature and that there may not be substantial differences between students from the various health professions on their views. Teachers and preceptors who students consider to be good role models, surprisingly, are unaware that they have such influence, but have similar views as students about the positive attributes of a role model. Given the importance of role models in student personal and professional development, schools must take steps to have positive models prevailing in their faculty and to prevent clinical tutors from expressing behaviours that convey negative qualities. These measures involve teacher training and faculty development activities and appreciation of faculty members for their performance in teaching. However, these measures will only make sense if schools offer their teachers good working conditions and, above all, possess an institutional culture that favours humanized relationships within the academic community.


Role modelling, Health professions students, Clinical tutors, Faculty development.


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