For any health care workers, professional responsibilities include both:
- Competence, and
- Lifelong learning
In other words, it is important to both attain the knowledge and clinical skills you need to do your job, and to maintain and add to this knowledge and skillset.
Furthermore, you have a set of obligations when relating to your clients, colleagues and others. The first of these is honesty. You must be honest with:
- Health Team members
Second, you must always uphold confidentiality in several key ways:
- Understand and follow the provisions of the Personal Health Information Protection Act.
- Do not discuss patient information of any kind outside of the work unit.
- Do not discuss private information of coworkers.
Third, you must take care to maintain appropriate relationships with patients. Never have a relationship with a patient that exploits the patient or causes them to have an undue dependence on you outside of your assigned duties.
As a health care professional, you have an ethical responsibility to work towards improving the quality of care. You can do this by participating in quality-of-care development measures and programs.
Related to this duty is your commitment to scientific knowledge. You must uphold scientific based standards of care to ensure evidence-based care best practices.
Next, be sure to maintain trust by managing conflicts of interest effectively. Consider that in small communities and family situations, everyone knows or is related to each other. There can be interpersonal dynamics at play that can impact how you do your job if you are not careful.
Check your biases at the door. Eliminate biases based on:
- Socioeconomic status
- Sexual orientation
- Religion/belief systems
- Physical appearance
- Mental coping capacity
Your bias will be felt by the client if you do not put it behind you.
What does it feel like to experience discrimination? You may be able to answer this question through firsthand experience, or you may need to learn more about it by hearing from those who do. Watch this video on microaggressions—what they are and why they matter to expand your thinking on this topic:
Content warning: Profanity is used to make a point about frustration. Real-life microaggressions are modelled.
Click here for a video transcript: Video Transcript
Finally, there are many considerations related to communication that you will send and receive in the course of your job. Review these issues below:
- Email. Does your email address say what you want for professional purposes? Is it secured? Are you required by your employer to use a certain email address for work? You must not use your email to convey information about clients, work issues or your co-workers.
- Cell phones. Mobile telephones are not to be used during client care unless you are being contacted by your employer. You must not use your cell phone to convey information about clients, work issues or your co-workers (including photos).
- Social media. No client or employer content is ever to be posted on social media. Check your social media pages; is this the professional presence you want people to see?
You will investigate communication in a lot more detail in a moment.
Review the following words closely. What do you think each one means for your own professional practice? Write down your thoughts for each word in your notes.
- Caring and compassion
- Attire, hair, jewelry and scents
- Verbal and written communication
Part 1 of this exercise provided you with the raw materials to formulate your own professional philosophy of caring. A statement of professional philosophy expresses the core values that will inform your professional practice and conduct. This statement should evolve with your professional development. You can express your professional philosophy by recording a video or by writing—whatever makes the most sense to you. Here is a written Philosophy of Nursing by Brandi Dahlin as an example.
If you like, do an internet search for professional philosophies written by others in your field to provide inspiration. When you feel confident, try to shape your thoughts from Part 1 above into your own unique statement that will guide your practice going forward.
To learn more about appropriate professional behaviour and comportment, consider reading Personal and Professional Growth for Health Care Professionals by David Tipton.