Professionalism…Never Impossible to Achieve

Professionalism and ethics are correlated, if a person has good ethics it will definitely affects his/her professionalism. Many definitions were found for professionalism, and according to the American board of Medical specialists “medical professionalism is a belief system in which group members (“professionals) declare (“profess”) to each other and the public the shared competency standards and ethical values they promise to uphold in their work and what the public and individual patients can and should expect from medical professionals.

Of course professionalism isn’t only required in the health or medical fields, it is required in every field, e.g.: engineering, accounting, management…etc. and not only in work but also in communications, relations, skills…etc.

Young businessman adjusting his tie

Personally I started to know about ethics and professionalism when I was a student and more specifically 2nd year physiotherapy student, I learned it theoretically, and to be honest it wasn’t interesting for me. But then I started my first clinical placement and I found that I had to apply what we had in the class room into real setting. I found that I had to deal with patients, co-patients, families, emotions, challenges, colleagues, staff, children, adult, acute cases, complex and chronic cases

All are expecting the best from me, so they can be better and I can only do that through my professional commitment. Actually no patient expects anything but the best from their therapist and this can be shown in attitude, skills, way of communication, proper examination and treatment. When a patient get that from their therapist it really helps building trust on me (as a therapist) and confident from the patient

And as I moved between different clinical settings, knowing and dealing with different people, working in different environments, I can say that by reaching my final year as a student I have changed a lot. Changes were in the ways of interaction between me and my patients, other colleagues, being on time and respecting it, getting experience of being a part of rehabilitation team in different settings, and being a role model for junior students that you feel your actions will help to build the younger generations as well


As for my country, physiotherapy and professionalism were on opposite directions, and that was because of there were no real physiotherapists. It starts with small number of technicians who had short courses on physiotherapy given to them by a medical doctor or sport medicine doctor “not a physiotherapist”, and the way they treated patient was far from professionalism in skills, techniques,…etc

Then physiotherapy schools start to open in some universities, and a lot of students apply, but there were few staff members to cover them all, therefore some universities used external collaboration to help in the teaching process.

SuPTA appears (Sudanese Physiotherapy Association) which was a great turning point for Sudanese physiotherapists and physiotherapy practice in Sudan, Setting roles for clinics, exams for getting the license of practice, certain criteria for registration, workshops…etc. that motivate every physiotherapy graduate to start developing themselves from the moment of graduation

In my opinion, being moved from having physiotherapy that is practiced by technicians into a profession with more than 2000 qualified registered physiotherapists is a great step to reach professionalism

Teacher and students b/w


Trying to build yourself by yourself without rudely stepping over others can be a step to professionalism, having a higher degree or making a change in your career life can be a great achievement that many people are trying to do, and since we are in the health sector we need to put patients as a priority, by this way we can understand the way they feel and what they are experiencing, so we can help in the best way possible and being professional when doing that

To reach professionalism we need to climb up the ladder to  reach its top, but we must build those steps strong enough to hold us through knowledge, skills and attitudes, so first we need to work on ourselves to achieve it but it is never impossible





5 Replies to “Professionalism…Never Impossible to Achieve”

  1. Dear Sarah

    Thank you for your post. I was struck firstly by your comment about how you, as a students, weren’t that interested in ethics. In my own experience of teaching ethics, I find that students are almost always initially uninterested. I think it might have something to do with a lack of clinical experience that makes it difficult to see the relevance of the concepts until they have spent some time working in the clinical context. I keep trying to figure out ways that we can introduce the concepts earlier in ways that students “get it”. Do you have any thoughts about how these concepts might have been better presented to you when you were studying, so that you might have been more engaged earlier?

    Secondly, I was really intrigued to hear more about the development of physiotherapy as a profession in your country. Even though I’m partially exposed to this project (and have visited your university) I’m still amazed when I hear how young physiotherapy is in some places. Do you think that having less of a “professional history” has an influence on how the concept of professionalism is thought about? For example, I wonder if your graduates will have a different concept of professional ethics than ours, considering they have less historical baggage?

    Finally, I loved your phrase: “Trying to build yourself by yourself…” What a lovely way to think about the challenges of development in isolation. I’ll definitely remember that 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Michael
    Thanks a lot for your comment. As we know there should be a link between what we had in the class room and what we will face in real clinical setting although it might be difficult some times
    For me, the theoretical part of ethics was more from the lecturer side, in other words, there were a lot of words about what we should do and what is expected from us…etc. I wished if we were asked first about what does it mean for us, e.g.: if there were a question of what does ethics in work place mean to us? How to look professional in your work place?…etc
    If those kinds of questions where introduced at the beginning of the lecture “and of course questions differ according to the topic”, it will stimulate our thinking and way of understanding it, besides giving chances for different opinions, so students can explain why they think their answer or their colleagues answers are right or not in their opinion
    Ex.: if a student says that in his/her opinion looking professional when dealing with patients is to be dressed well in uniforms, greet the patient and explain what we are about to do to the patient, then why this student thinks doings such things can be considered as professional behavior and thus generate discussion, and a lecture is formed
    Another way I was thinking about is making “short stories or scenarios” from clinical setting that asks the students what they will do in those situations, how to act more ethically or professionally? That may give some sort of stimulation of what they will face when doing their clinical placement. Ex: at workplace, with patients or patient families. Of course the stories can’t cover all but at least to cover the most common situations that students may deal with in more professional or ethical ways
    Ex: being moved to a new clinical center with no previous physiotherapist, how to deal with colleagues from different professions who have less idea about your role with patients and show professional attitude towards them
    EX:patient doesn’t want treatment due to a certain misconception “can be cultural” but you know it is important for his/her condition, how you will deal with that
    Those are just me opinions, because when I started my clinical placement I faced some situations and I looked back at my class notes but there were no guides for the challenges we faced in reality
    For the second part it was great that you are part of the project “even if it was partially” and visiting my university was an honor for us. And I am sure it gives you a small idea of how physiotherapy is in the country and in some universities while many are still struggling with staff, equipment…etc
    I think that having a good understanding of professionalism has a great link with more professional history because with more history you will have periods of development, of overcoming challenges, discovering gaps and filling them with the right blocks, update the profession and thus your graduates will get the difference of how physiotherapy was and how it is recently, so they can figure out the professional development.For us, physiotherapy considered as a new profession therefore we are still in the beginning of the road, although we are trying to reach professionalism through setting roles, clinics, colleges but we are still juniors so our graduates only see what we have now because there was no past..
    Therefore, I have no doubt that having more professional history definitely has an influence on professionalism
    P.S: I am glad you loved my phrase…thank you 🙂


  3. Hi Sarah. I think you’ve raised an important point with respect to first asking students what certain concepts mean to them. We tend to begin by telling students what they should be thinking and how they should be acting but maybe it would be useful to start by asking students what they think certain things mean. As you say, it also gives them a chance think about and explain why the believe certain things. Great point.

    I also really like your comment about knowing the history of the profession. We tend not to think very much about where we’ve come from, which means we don’t always know why things are the way they are. In many cases it’s because we’ve made a conscious choice and those choices have implications that we don’t appreciate because we don’t even realise that it was a choice to begin with. I think about the scandals of the profession in the early days in England, where physiotherapists were associated with prostitutes because of our emphasis on massage, and how that in turn influenced our tendency to look at the body as a machine. We still approach the body like that today, even though there is no longer any association of therapeutic touch with anything sensual. Anyway, just a thought on how history is important.


  4. Dear Michael,
    thanks for commenting, Regarding the part of physiotherapy and prostitution due to the emphasis on massage drove me to think about one of our problems in Sudan regarding physiotherapy practice. although it is not a history or a scandal but you can say it is more of a cultural belief “away from religion”. as some people think of it as only a “massage” and so it is not a decent job specially for females to have, as some patients are males and massage requires exposing parts of the body. In fact, i have faced this from one of my relatives when i was a bout to study physiotherapy. And as physiotherapy and prostitution were in one line in old days, i think some cultural believes can be used as a history of how physiotherapy thought about and how it becomes


    1. Dear Sarah

      This is a great example of how sharing ideas across culture exposes us to different ways of thinking about the profession. I didn’t realise that this was a problem. In South Africa we also have the experience of people thinking that physiotherapy is just about massage but we don’t have the added baggage of how that makes them think about women in the job. If anything, our culture is more biased towards thinking that it should be women who do that kind of work. I wonder what we can do to change the public perception of what the profession is.


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