Personality Characteristics as Predictors of Attitudes Towards Professionalism

Moser M.S. PA-C LLP, Sharon, and Amy Dereczyk M.S. PA-C

The purpose of this study was to measure personality clusters in full time graduate, part-time graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in a Physician Assistant program, and determine how these personality clusters were predictive of degree of professionalism.

Methods: Participants in the study were students in the Physician Assistant Program at the University of Detroit Mercy. After receiving IRB approval,  a professionalism survey previously developed by the researchers above was administered to 3 cohorts of students: 1st and 2nd year students in the full time program, 1st, 2nd and 3rd year students in the part time program, and 1st, 2nd and 3rd year undergraduates in the 5 year PA program N=82.. Each of those students also completed a Millon College Counseling survey which profiled personality characteristics , clusters and pathology.  The  Moser Professionalism Survey is a Likert based scale measuring 15 dimensions of personality.  The Millon College Counseling Inventory  is a multi-dimensional personality assessment tool normed on college and university students ages 16-40 years old. Each item in the Moser scale measures a dimension of self assessment of personality (5 being the greatest agreement, 1 being the least).  The Millon results were clustered into the most unhealthy personality characteristics to the most healthy.  6 clusters of personality characteristics along this continuum were developed and validated  through correlational studies, and were compared to  items in the Moser Professionalism Scale.  Results: Using a Pearson 2-tailed correlation, the correlation between taking full responsibility for one’s actions is  positively correlated to the healthiest personality clusters (consciencous, social, extroverted) and negatively correlated to the unhealthiest personality characteristics  (p< .02)

Similar significant correlations in the same direction were found for the importance of continuing education (p< .05), being honest and trustworthy (p<.05), open-mindedness (<.04), considering professional attire to be important (p<.05), punctuality (p<.01).

Conclusions: Positive personality clusters are predictive of positive attitudes toward professionalism, while negative (unhealthy) personality clusters are predictive of negative attitudes toward professionalism.