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Competency 12. Provide appropriate role modeling

      Role models play an essential role in character and professional development. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a role model as “a person whose behavior in a particular role is imitated by others.”

      Role model. Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Available at: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/role%20model. Accessed September 2, 2013.

      The term “role model” was coined by Dr. Robert K. Merton, the pioneering sociologist, in his publication of a 5-year study of the socialization of medical students. Merton theorized that individuals identify reference groups to which they may or may not belong for purposes of self-comparison. In addition, individuals identify social groups, each having a set of social roles that is associated with a specific set of behaviors, to help learn appropriate social roles.
      • Barretti M.
      What do we know about the professional socialization of our students?.
      Merton's work defines socialization as the learning of those social roles. “Socialization takes place primarily through social interaction with people who are significant for the individual. In its application to the medical student, socialization refers to the processes through which he develops his professional self, with its characteristic values, attitudes, knowledge, and skills, fusing these into a more or less consistent set of dispositions which govern his behavior in a wide variety of professional (and extra-professional) situations.”
      Professional socialization refers to the aspect of socialization that must occur for an individual to be accepted into an occupational group; that is, he must “accept the common core of relatively homogeneous values, norms, and role definitions of that group.”
      • Holton G.
      • Robert K.
      Merton (4 July 1910–23 February 2003) [obituary].
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      References

      1. Role model. Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Available at: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/role%20model. Accessed September 2, 2013.

        • Barretti M.
        What do we know about the professional socialization of our students?.
        J Social Work Educ. 2004; 40: 255-283
      2. Merton R.K. Reader G.G. Kendall P.L. The Student-Physician: Introductory Studies in the Sociology of Medical Education: A Report of the Bureau of Applied Social Research of Columbia University. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass1957
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        Role modeling—making the most of a powerful teaching strategy.
        Br Med J. 2008; 336: 718-721