Professionalism and ethics allows for a better interaction and experience among others. Every person has their own idea and understanding of ethics and professionalism, yet there is a general set of standards a person needs, to uphold their professional position. Professionalism is the way you act, speak and behave. As a Physiotherapy student, there are certain skills required when treating a patient. Likewise, physiotherapy clinicians need to possess characteristics that need to be portrayed in order to mold the students into professional beings. Important characteristics needed by both clinician and student include respect for each other and peers, consistent and effective communication between students and clinician as well as the ability to approach one another comfortably. Professionalism allows for a better interaction and working experience amongst others. According to Trede (2012) when physiotherapy students were questioned on professionalism, it was said that they could only query and reflect on issues as much as their work-integrated learning supervisors would allow.
In my 3rd year of clinical rotations, I struggled to cope in my last block which consisted of all the specialties. In one of my experiences I failed to acquire the relevant information on orthopaedics. It was with regards to a patient’s condition before mobilisation. I do admit I was careless and in the wrong. My reason for not communicating effectively with my clinician was due to her scary and intimidating demeanour. When I would ask a question, she would make me feel inadequate by responding with, “You should know, you were taught this”. During this particular incident, the clinician scolded me in the Physiotherapy department in front of my peers, students from another University, the Head of the department and another qualified physiotherapist. I immediately apologised to her for my mistake, yet she continued to belittle me. She reprimanded me as if she were disciplining a 2 year old child and not an adult. This incident was completely humiliating and I was devastated.
It was not a good experience for me. After that, the block became miserable and I became more afraid of the clinician. It negatively affected my ability to gain the best knowledge I possibly could from the block. Similarly, it was found that medical students received a disproportionate amount of their training in professional values from the supervisors and that those values were often in direct conflict with those taught by the university (Shrank, Reed, & Jernstedt, 2004). I felt the way the clinician handled the situation was unethical and unprofessional. “Professionalism needs to be seen as a responsibility to make judgments and decisions in the context of practice” (Trede, 2012). The clinician could have taken me aside in private and address the issue in a calm and adult-like manner. A concept of professional identity is the power of dialogue between yourself and the other. Good practice requires responsible practitioners who are aware of themselves and of others, so they can make appropriate situated decisions and can see great possibilities. (Trede, 2012)
It is important for a professional in higher authority to remember that if they set a good example, it will allow people below them to learn and mimic their ways. This will avoid situations going south and bad reputations from forming. It was suggested in (Shrank, Reed, & Jernstedt, 2004) that both formal teaching and role modelling are important to the development of professional values. In order for a clinician to effectively sculpt attitudes and attributes for students, they must hold these same characteristics and values for themselves (Shrank, Reed, & Jernstedt, 2004). Physiotherapy, like other health professions and activities, demands research for greater ethical awareness (Anderson & Pickering, 2008).
Anderson, L., & Pickering, N. (2008). Ethical review of physiotherapy research. NZ Journal of Physiotherapy, 138-143.
Shrank, W., Reed, V., & Jernstedt, C. (2004). Fostering Professionalism in Medical Education. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 887-892.
Trede, F. (2012). Role of work-integrated learning in developing professionalism and professional identity. Asia-Pacific Journal of Cooperative Education, 159-167.