Professionalism can have various meanings depending on the context it’s used in. I used to have the idea that a professional clinician always presented neatly and seriously, attends conferences, knowledgeable about their field, keeps their working space tidy, and was always punctual. I had a clinician in the ICU who presented this way and I immediately admired her and looked up to her as a role model. But soon, after working more closely with her I started to pick up problems. She belittled me in the hospital setting, in front of patients. She ripped away the little confidence I had working in the ICU. I did not feel encouraged to learn through this experience. Instead I was afraid. I did not feel worthy to work in this setting and I dreaded every moment with her. When I was unsure of something and needed help, instead of educating me, she belittled me for not having the same knowledge as she did.
Being a professional clinician goes hand-in-hand with being a positive role model for trainees (Jochemsen-van der Leeuw, van Dijk, van Etten-Jamaludin, & Wieringa-de Waard, 2013). The attributes of role models can be divided into three categories: patient care qualities, teaching qualities, and personal qualities. A positive role model to trainees, should have the following patient care qualities; experienced and strong clinician with a commitment to excellence and growth effective diagnostic and therapeutic skills and sound clinical reasoning. Furthermore, a positive role model is compassionate, caring, engaging, and empathic to patients and is able to build a personal connection with them. As a clinical educator, a positive role model establishes rapport with learners, tailors his or her teaching to learners’ needs and gives learners the autonomy to make independent decisions. At the same time, he or she adopts a positive attitude toward trainees, shows enthusiasm for teaching, and makes himself or herself available for trainees and accessible for questions. He or she stimulates critical thinking, makes learning exciting, and is inspirational (Jochemsen-van der Leeuw, van Dijk, van Etten-Jamaludin, & Wieringa-de Waard, 2013).
My clinician is an excellent physiotherapist, but a poor professional clinician. In future, if I have another negative role model as a clinician, I hope that I will be able to notice their mistakes and learn from them, not imitate them.
When it comes to professionalism and professional behaviour we often have higher expectations of others than we do for ourselves. We see unethical behaviour everywhere but fail to notice it in ourselves. I should not take opportunities to point out all the ways that others are doing it wrong. The challenge lies with me and how to look at myself and see how I can improve.
Whenever I feel the need to point out how poorly someone else is behaving, I need to remember that there is a tall list of characteristics to be the perfect professional clinician. It is impossible to meet every single requirement on this list and I need to remember that I am further away from achieving some of these characteristics than many clinicians I may come across and feel the urge to judge them on. I know that I cannot hold myself accountable to all of the same behaviours I expect to see in others. I need to try to avoid judging others and instead focus on the one person I know I definitely can change.
Jochemsen-van der Leeuw, H., van Dijk, N., van Etten-Jamaludin, F., & Wieringa-de Waard, M. (2013). The Attributes of the Clinical Trainer as a Role Model. Academic Medicine, 88(1), 26-34. http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/acm.0b013e318276d070