Whether you're a physical, occupational, or respiratory therapist, or a speech language pathologist, very few therapy professionals wear certain clothing/uniforms or external identifiers to outwardly indicate that they are a healthcare professional.
This led me to wonder, what makes a professional?
Is it the number of letters after someone’s name? Is it their position? Is it their personal qualities and behaviour? Can the office admin assistant or building janitor without all the fancy titles and advanced degrees be considered a true professional?
I am sure you have met many ‘professionals’ with fancy titles, lovely offices and more letters after their name than you have in your own name. Some of whom have left you with a very sour taste in your mouth after dealing with their unprofessional behaviour.
Furthermore, I am certain we have all met less educated providers that impress us with their honesty, integrity and caring behaviour towards those on any level of the social, educational or economic scale. The janitor who takes great pride in his shiny floors, the admin who is always one step ahead, the assistant who has an uncanny yet accurate intuition when it comes to patients needs.
So what does a professional look like, act like and behave like, and how can we become more professional no matter what or how many letters come after our name?
- A professional looks the part. Like it or not, the way you dress is important. You can be the sharpest tool in the shed, but if you are covered in dirt, it will be hard for anyone to tell. Professionals spend the time, money and energy to look the part. Maybe it shouldn’t matter, but it does, sorry.
- A professional treats everyone, colleagues/patients/residents/clients, with dignity and respect. They see value in each person, no matter how high or low on the totem pole they happen to be. Not always an easy thing to do, but always the right thing to do.
- A professional commits to life-long learning. School is never out for us, whether it’s ‘automobile university’ (that is listening to informative CD’s in the car), always having a book on the go, keeping up to date with their professional magazines or websites, attending personal or professional conferences, or simply by listening and learning from others.
- A professional does their best at what they are being paid to do. They are committed to excellence whether they ‘feel like it’ or not, whether external circumstances warrant it or not.
Can anyone with the right attitude be a professional? Yes. I know that you may have specialized skills and training, perhaps more so than your lesser skilled colleagues, and you perhaps invested more years in schooling and education than some of your peers. But what is to be gained by holding yourself high and making others feel low? Instead, what if we hold the bar high for everyone? If we treat everyone we work with as professionals and expect everyone to act like a professional in the realm of what they do, I would bet my last nickel we wouldn’t be disappointed!
So a number of questions beg to be asked:
- Are you a professional?
- What could you do to act more professionally?
- Do you treat others professionally?
- What could you do differently to improve professionalism in your workplace?
- How would things be better in your workplace if you treated others more professionally?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue! Do you agree? Am I way off base? What am I missing? Do you have your own definition? Leave a comment on this aftibelow or E-mail me at Stephanie@yourlifeunlimited.ca. About the Author: Stephanie Staples is a passionate coach & advocate for ‘nursing the nurses,’ is the founder of the Life Support for Nurses Wellness Retreat and is a highly regarded speaker at conferences, internationally. Visit www.YourLifeUnlimited.cafor more cool tools!