According to the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education (see Bossers, Kernaghan, Hodgins, Merla, O’Connor, Van Kessel, 1999, p.16-21), professionalism can be subdivided into three different sections. These include professional parameters, professional behaviours and values, as well as professional responsibilities. Professional parameters simply relate to the principles of ethical and lawful matters while professional behaviours and values are pertaining to the area of knowledge, abilities, way of carrying one’s self in behaviour and appearance, also, fostering bonds with patients and team members.
On the other hand, professional responsibilities include personal, employers, patients and societal responsibilities. (See Hammer, Berger, Beardsley, 2003;67:p1-29).
For the purpose of this assignment, professional behaviours and values will be discussed. Behaviours simply mean attitudes portrayed while values mean beliefs of one’s self. Professional behaviours and values are broken down into altruism, acceptance and non-judgemental attitude, confidentiality, accountability, communication between professional and patient, collegiality, as well as self improvement.
Altruism is defined as an unselfish act in response to a goal in offering service to others.
(Shrank, Reed, Jermnstedt, 2004). This applies when a patient comes to a health care professional for treatment. In this situation, the patient’s needs are crucial to attend to rather than the individual professional’s own needs but this does not mean that the professional must put aside or sacrifice their health or other factors in their life for the sake of the patient. In terms of giving care, compassion and treatment to the patient, a professional must prioritize the patient first rather than himself. (College of physicians and surgeons of Ontario, 2007).
Say for example, a physician finishes his shift for the day and is about to leave his workplace when an emergency accident case of a child comes in. There is a lack of workforce at that period of time as it is the holiday season. Instead of leaving the hospital to attend to an appointment made after work, the physician should attend to the case before leaving.
Altruism can also be associated with genuineness, empathy and compassion while performing a task. According to Gerrig (2008), when a person is evoked with empathy towards another individual, altruistic motive is created. In other words, empathy gives rise to help being provided to the individual in need. Indirectly, altruism not only enriches the experience of a professional but also matures the professional with in numerous cases handled every day. Professionals with altruism will have good social relationships with patients and colleagues. On the whole, altruism is being passionate about one’s profession.
Another key ingredient in professionalism is acceptance and non-judgemental attitude. According to DuBois and Miley (see Biestek ,1957) , accepting a patient include listening and responding to patient’s feelings with sensitivity, showing sincere concern towards the problem, recognizing others’ opinions and generating respect. Besides that, acceptance is also inclusive of construction of patient’s strengths and recognizing the ability of each patient for transformation to overcome problems.
On the contrary, there are many causes which hinder a professional from practicing these values. Among them are deficiency in psychology knowledge and self-awareness, unfairness, and biasness. With regard to this, Goldstein (1973) eloquently describes that patients having a history of abandoned and unsecured relationships will find more difficulties in receiving acceptance. This leads to worrisome in the patient as acceptance is seen as a threat in establishing relationships in life.
On the other hand, non-judgemental attitude is allied with acceptance. In a smaller picture, non-judgmentalism is defined as free from favouritism and prejudice. This also includes non-accusing way of thinking whereby a patient is not judged as bad or good. A professional is ought to treat a patient with rights rather than taking the patient as an entity, just another case or an appointment (Dubois and Miley, 2005, p.127).As a matter of fact, patients should be treated and cared for with equality and without judging social class, race, colour or creed.
Likewise, personal biasness can impede the theory of non-judgementalism among professionals. For that, professionals should identify situations whereby judgment and blame can occur. So, professionals should be able to explore and confront their personal ethics and beliefs that can upset relationships with patients. (Dubois and Miley, 2005, p.128).
Another vital cornerstone in professionalism is confidentiality. Confidentiality is the responsibility of not disclosing a patient’s information to colleagues or members of the society. These information are sensitive as they comprise of the patient’s feelings, discussions and feedbacks from the professionals plus medical records. The chief elements are trust, truthfulness and fidelity which must be rooted in both professional and patient. In a patient-professional relationship, patients disclose embarrassing, shameful and agonizing information to the professional with great trust and expectations that the professional will safeguard these information.
DuBois and Milley (2005, p.131) state that confidentiality is not absolute whereby under a specific situation, revelation of information is required.For example, when a problem is suspected, such as child abuse. In this case, it is the responsibility of the professional to take appropriate actions based on the ethical laws.
Besides that, another requirement of a professional is to be accountable. According to Hornby (2005, p.10), accountability means being liable to one’s judgments and being able to give explanations when required. Related to this, professionals must be knowledgeable and experienced in their skills and performance in accordance to their practice. This include fulfilling the duty to obey by the ethical laws and avoid appalling practices and responsibility towards patients.(DuBois and Milley, 2005, p.131).
Accountability has connection with patient-professional relationship. A helping relationship is formed based on this fundamental relationship. Basically, a helping relationship is whereby a professional addresses solutions and advice to the patient as part of the recovery process. As described in 2005 by DuBois and Miley (see Weick, 1999, p331), this relationship should be mutual in which the professional acknowledges the views of the patient. Essentially, a professional should be familiar with the faiths and values of the patient as well as to decide what is best for the patient. Not only that, a professional should be able to empower and motivate a patient for an ongoing process of treatment which requires psychological skills. On the other hand, the patient should be informed specifically regarding the medical care received.
Patients approach the professional due to mental and physical ailments. So, the professional should give the best care to the patient. With efficient communication skills and positive nature of the patient’s participation, this relationship will continue to grow with time as long as there is readiness to listen and congruency from both parties.
Another component in professionalism is collegiality. Collegiality is the relationship between colleagues who seek the requirement of respect, mutual trust, acknowledgement of each other’s knowledge and cooperation between team mates. (College of Physician and Surgeons of Ontario). As this relationship can have an adverse effect on a patient’s wellbeing, it is the duty of the professional to maintain healthy relationships with their team mates. This involves critical teamwork skills especially when it comes to referrals, consultations, discussions and diagnoses. When a conflict occurs, team mates should discuss the matter without being affected by personal prejudice and come up with a suitable solution. With this, the patient is guaranteed to receive a standard and holistic care.
From a professional point of view, self improvement is another key substance in the practice of health care. A professional should evaluate themselves rationally from time to time based on their attitudes, efficiency and interest in their field of practice without presuming that everything is known well to them. With respect to this, a professional is expected to continue education to update their knowledge and skills. Not only that, they should get involved in discussions with other health care professionals, professional training and consultations. The experience obtained will ensure delivery of appropriate treatment with efficiency.
A professional should also seek help from other professionals when required. The willingness to accept critics should also be implanted as this will lead to a better understanding of the level of competency of a professional. It is solely the duty of the professional to ensure that the standards and values practiced are in par with the level of competency required.
In conclusion, the professional behaviours mentioned, if practiced to the utmost interest, will generate a positive impact among health care professionals in order to offer quality service and treatment to the patients. Together with the practice of professional parameters and responsibilities, there will be an indirectly pose on the health care system to be effective in serving the public.