Professionalism in a healthcare setting encompasses a commitment to patients, a commitment to society, a commitment to the profession and a commitment to self. In the healthcare field, you are witness to the miracles and tragedies of life, and in a position of utmost trust; professional conduct acknowledges this trust as a privilege and nurtures it.
Professionalism as a Skill: What Does That Really Mean?
A commitment to patients is demonstrated by integrity and altruism, dedicating yourself to excellence in your practice, respecting appropriate boundaries and honouring patient confidentiality.
A commitment to society involves consistently promoting the public good in healthcare, being socially accountable and maintaining societal expectations of the profession.
Commitment to the profession is evidenced by fulfilling your obligations to your colleagues, including mentorship, collegiality and support, as well as respecting those you work with by being punctual, enthusiastic and prepared. Commitment to the profession also can involve recognizing and addressing unprofessional conduct in your colleagues.
Professionalism in a Professional Setting
In order to better understand how to perform well on professionalism metrics on CASPer, it is helpful to understand why this is being measured in the first place.
Why are medical schools and other health professions programs so interested in assessing professionalism?
Let's look at an example in a professional context for some insight. Below, we'll share an example of effective professionalism in a rural physician's office.
Dr. Nkosi just finished residency and moved to a small town of 5,000 people. He was in his late 20's and interested in starting a relationship, but one of the challenges of living in a small town was the limited dating prospects. He'd had a few relationships during medical school and residency, but nothing had stuck.
Dr. Nkosi mostly saw elderly patients and children, but one day when he was working in the town's small emergency department, a patient in her late 20's showed up. Her name was Grace and she needed stitches after her bicycle took a nasty spill on a gravel road. Dr. Nkosi and Grace got to know each other as he cleaned the gravel out of her wounds and gave her 45 stiches on her legs and forearms, bonding over their mutual love of cycling.
"You're good to go!" Dr. Nkosi patted the last bandage in place. "Make an appointment with my office and I'll remove the stitches for you."
"Thanks!" Grace stood up. "So…do you think you'd like to go out sometime?"
Dr. Nkosi was silent for a moment. If he had met Grace outside of the hospital, there was no question that he would say yes. "Thank you for the offer, but I actually can't date patients-it's nothing personal."
"I'm barely your patient! What about if I get someone else to take out my stitches and I don't see you as a patient again?"
"I'm not sure about that-I would have to look up the policy to see if that makes any difference."
"Okay. I will see you around then." Grace left with a prescription for an antibiotic cream. An older nurse had overheard their interaction and was impressed. Not every doctor in their town would turn down an invitation like that, and she knew of plenty who hadn't over the years.
News got around quickly in a town like that, and the young doctor gained a lot of respect. Dr. Nkosi did double-check the policy, and it turned out that if he only treated Grace once, then he actually could accept her offer.
A few weeks later, they ran into each other on a local bike trail, and made plans for a date.
Medical professionals are in a position of trust, interacting with people in vulnerable states-there are very high standards for conduct for a reason. Dr. Nkosi understood that he held a position of trust, and even when a certain course of action didn't seem too bad, his conduct had to be above reproach. This professional standard for physicians ensures that they will continue to hold the trust of the public and the individuals under their care.
Given this example, you can understand why medical schools and other health professions programs are so interested in choosing applicants who consistently practice professionalism.
So How Does CASPer Evaluate You on this Skill?
CASPer poses common scenarios and reflective questions aimed to determine if you possess the People Skills that you will eventually require to be a successful professional. Start Practicing