November 30, 2022

Is honesty is the best policy on resumes?

Patients expect honesty and attention to detail in their doctors. Unfortunately there is a large proportion who appear to be economical with the truth. Two recent studies looking at applications to training programs in obstetrics show that nearly 30 out of every 100 applicants took credit for non-existent research publications.

Patients expect honesty and attention to detail in their doctors. Unfortunately there is a large proportion of them who appear to be economical with the truth. Two recent studies looking at applications to training programs in obstetrics show that nearly 30 out of every 100 applicants took credit for non-existent research publications.

“Our hope is that these are honest mistakes and not willful attempts to mislead,” said Dr. Michael Frumovitz, a professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and lead author of one of the studies.

In a University of Washington study of 937 applications for an obstetrics fellowship, 357 applicants declared that they had either published in a peer-reviewed journal or that a peer-reviewed journal had accepted their article. The trouble was that in 156 cases, the article simply did not exist. Still worse, in 62 cases, the article had been accepted but the journal was not peer-reviewed.

“The best you can assume is that these applicants didn’t look up what peer review meant or they don’t understand it,” the researcher, Anne-Marie Amies Oelschlager, told  Reuters Health. “None of that is flattering and you worry whether they really understand the tenets of authorship, research, what is peer review and what is not.”

“Applicants might be deliberately padding their resumes to try and get a spot, and it’s concerning. The whole thing about being a physician is that you are expected to be honest,” she said. ~ Reuters, Feb 22

Michael Cook
professional ethics