In the beginning of the year I haven’t had the best experience working at a tertiary hospital for my first block in my fourth year of clinical practice. To add to that, it was an ICU rotation which to me at the time was to a certain extent intimidating. Coming from a lovely December/January varsity vacation I quickly had to learn the ins and outs of the theory side of ICU just before I started the block. To my surprise as the block progressed I found myself gaining confidence and stability to what was expected from me by my supervisor, clinician, colleagues as well as myself. Expectations was something that was highly emphasized with my clinician at this block as she always expected me to be on my toes knowing exactly what to do, when to do it, and why I was doing it. She pushed me to improve in so many things and this helped me a lot with how I dealt with every situation/patient. Until one day I felt that perhaps her expectations was too high. Maybe I was a bit stubborn or maybe in the wrong but I honestly got to the point where I felt victimized.
So the situation went about where my exam ended late. There was a patient that I was still meant to treat in the ward, however at the time he was moved to a different unit (which I was unaware of after asking the nurses in charge). After my exam, which was just before the end of my working hours I wrote a note to my clinician informing her about this as there was no other form of communication to her. I didn’t know which ward he was in and unfortunately did not treat him. Assuming that this was me being a good student letting her know about this and hoping that she will understand since I ended off late with my examination, that everything will be fine and she will sort the situation out further.
The next day, she raged at me about not communicating properly, neglecting my patient, not taking responsibility for my patient and accusing me for taking advantage of the fact that my examination and block is done I have an attitude thinking I can do as I please. This made me feel incompetent, senseless and victimized.
I feel that the situation I was in relates a lot to professionalism. According to Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (2014) this term is defined as “qualities, skills, competence and behaviors expected of individuals belonging to any given profession including physiotherapy”. Many sources and research explains that professionalism is a complex term and it is best explained by several acceptable core values. According to American Physical Therapy Association (2012) the following core values are namely; accountability, altruism, compassion and caring, excellence, integrity, professional duty and social responsibility. The two core values that I felt related to my situation are;
Accountability– it was my responsibility to make sure my patient was treated. If I was not able to do so I should have then done the necessary actions to make sure the patient was seen by contacting the next physiotherapist who would see the patient. This is linked to better communication with colleagues.
Altruism- where it was my responsibility to place the needs of the patient ahead of my self-interest where I felt that I needed to go home on time rather than making sure my patient was referred or transferred from one physiotherapist to another.
The video by American Physical Therapy Association (2014) helped me understand the meaning of professionalism and what it means to others/ how others perceive it. I realized that an individual physiotherapist’s activities in both their working and personal lives will impact upon the perception of physiotherapy professionalism by others.
American Physical Therapy Association. (2014, December 12). APTA Roundtable: Professionalism in Physical Therapy [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/gxY8XvLq7EY?t=156
American Physical Therapy Association. (2012, July 27). Professionalism in physical therapy: Core values. Retrieved from http://www.apta.org/uploadedFiles/APTAorg/About_Us/Policies/Judicial_Legal/ProfessionalismCoreValues.pdf
Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. (2014). What is professionalism? | The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. Retrieved from http://www.csp.org.uk/professional-union/professionalism/what-professionalism