To the professional clinician: Teach me, don’t belittle me.

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.


4 Replies to “To the professional clinician: Teach me, don’t belittle me.”

  1. Hey cherie.

    I understand your concern and great content on how proffesionalism needs to be conducted in practice. Humanity and how the fast paced world we live in today tends to bring multiple stress upon the human body. Clinicians are supposed to help you and it is great that you are able to identify negative characteristics in a professional, which means you truly know what is expected of you in your career ahead. Believe in yourself and your capabilities, dont let this incident bring you down but rather take this opportunity to come back stronger in future encounters with clinicians. Understand all humans are different and handle matters different. Speaking about your feelings in a proffesional manner to your clinician would be my advice. A positive outcome can change the hearts and ways of unwanted traits.

    All the best.
    Fabio Da Luz
    UWC physiotherapy student

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is beautiful. I admire the fact that you saw these mistakes and you also remembered no to be too quick to judge as we are all human beings. It is a good thing that you also saw the clinician as a person who as well has their own individual faults, though this should not be the reason for the clinician or any other person not to uphold a professional conduct. I believe as human beings we are not perfect yes, but we should also strive uphold a good professional conduct in the workplace everyday. I also think that other clinicians cannot separate personal matters and professional matters, it might be an individual perspective but I think people also come to work with personal burdens and take them out on the nearest person at work. Otherwise I really admire how turned your experience into a positive one. I do believe that you will make a good professional Physiotherapist one day.

    All the best
    Pardon Hlungwani
    UWC Physiotherapist Iv

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Cherie

    I enjoyed reading this post- mostly because I can relate to how you feel. I’ve come across clinicians who have honestly made a positive difference in my life by being a good example and by simply being a mentor; on the other hand, I believe I have also met a headache in human form.
    I’m happy to see that you have highlighted what a good clinician should be like- I think that this will help you to better your own practice and be a good example to other students in the future.

    I hope that the experience hasn’t left you feeling despondent or sad.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Firstly, I just want to say that you aren’t the only one who is going through this or who has gone through this and I think it’s great how you expressed your feelings because I definitely know that their are many students who can relate to your situation.

    I love how your turned something negative into something positive, and created an opportunity for personal growth.

    You put into words what a lot of other students are struggling to say and I think this post will definitely make them feel like they aren’t alone.

    Your title immediately grabbed my attention and persuaded me to carry on reading further.


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