Background Medical professionalism has received increased worldwide attention, yet there is limited information on the applicability and utility of established Western professionalism frameworks in non-Western nations. Objective We developed a locally derived consensus definition of medical professionalism for the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which reflects the cultural and social constructs of the UAE and the Middle East. Methods We used a purposive sample of 14 physicians working in the UAE as clinical and education leaders. This expert panel used qualitative methods, including the world café, nominal group technique, the Delphi method, and an interpretive thematic analysis to develop the consensus statement. Results The expert panel defined 9 attributes of medical professionalism. There was considerable overlap with accepted Western definitions, along with important differences in 3 aspects: (1) the primacy of social justice and societal rights; (2) the role of the physician's personal faith and spirituality in guiding professional practices; and (3) societal expectations for professional attributes of physicians that extend beyond the practice of medicine. Conclusions Professionalism is a social construct influenced by cultural and religious contexts. It is imperative that definitions of professionalism used in the education of physicians in training and in the assessment of practicing physicians be formulated locally and encompass specific competencies relevant to the local, social, and cultural context for medical practice. Our goal was to develop a secular consensus statement that encompasses culture and values relevant to professionalism for the UAE and the Arab region.
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