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Professionalism has increasingly become an essential term among occupations and their interactions with the society. Usually, professionalism is perceived as positive, in that a person acting professionally tends to win the trust of, and demonstrates competence to stakeholders (Haroun, 2016). However, its meaning tends to differ from one individual to the other. There isn’t an agreed generic definition for ‘professionalism’ as a term (Monrouxe and Rees, 2017). Therefore, this assignment seeks to use the Nurses and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) definition of professionalism quoted in Glasper (2017) to reflect upon my model of professionalism and how it relates to what I have read.
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Glasper (2017) has explained that professionalism has been used to change what may be perceived as a negative image of an occupation. The article posits that such a change in image has been achieved through ‘’regulation and state registration’’(Glasper, 2017:706). In effect, for an individual to be professionally recognised, they will need to sign up to the standards that govern the profession which then become the guiding principles of practice. However, the focus can also shifted from protecting the public, to shielding its members the professional body (Klein, 2010).
What is professionalism?
Glasper (2017) refers to the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) tool kit, which defines professionalism as “the autonomous evidence-based decision making by members of an occupation who share the same values and education” (Glasper, 2017:706). The article also refers to the NMC’s professional codes of conduct that must be upheld by those seeking to be recognised as nursing or midwifery professionals, whilst emphasising the core tasks of the profession. By adhering to these professional codes, nursing and midwifery professionals across board are expected to work to achieve the profession’s objectives.
The codes of conducts are formally laid down by professional regulators which therefore serve as rules for registrants (Monrouxe and Rees, 2017). These rules provide common terms of reference for all registrants and allow other stake holders to have common expectations of the profession. As a clinical engineer, registered with the Academy of Healthcare Science (AHCS), I am required to adhere to the Academy’s standards of proficiency, and this governs my practice. For example, my role requires me to demonstrate fitness to practice, which includes having the skills, knowledge and experience to practice safely. It is essential that I have the required training (both from formal education and work based) that allows me to practice with confidence. It also allows other stakeholders to be confident in my expert views. Whilst acknowledging that my own competence in necessary for practice, it is also essential to accept the limits of my knowledge and competence, so that where necessary, relevant professionals will be consulted for their views in a given event (Monrouxe and Rees, 2017).
Whilst such standards are essential for the safe discharge of duties, decisions or targets set by senior management could either ‘’facilitate or impede’’ compliance or adherence to the codes (Mason, 2017: 1203). For example, competing priorities of the hospital can mean that advice to introduce innovative practice can be overruled, even if this means long term benefits could be lost. Monrouxe and Rees (2017) have also explained that rules can provide practitioners with a scope which can also be bent, so long as it is acceptable by the profession. The outcome could mean empathy and person centredness is lost in the discharge of duties even though a professional could be within the acceptable standards of practice.
According the NMC’s tool kit referred to by Glasper (2017: 707), professionalism is also achieved by ‘’purposeful relationships… underpinned by environments that facilitates professional practice’’. This aspect emphasises the relevance of inter-professional collaboration for the nursing and midwifery profession. This is important, as professionals within the health sector work across their boundaries to achieve positive outcomes for patients.
This is similar to my role as a clinical engineer, where significant aspects of my function require me to work with other professionals in the hospital environment to improve outcomes for patients and contribute to staff wellbeing. This could involve working with clinicians, nurses, IT personnel or facilities team in evaluating new equipment which needs to be purchased for the hospital. It is essential to raise that whilst inter-professional collaboration is vital for effective and efficient service delivery, this can also bring about significant challenges. Lack of appreciation of other professionals’ roles and expertise can lead to undermining their role in delivery of projects for the hospital. If overall organisational goals are to be achieved effectively and efficiently, individual professionals will have to make a deliberate effort to move from identifying as particular profession to embracing collaborative working, which prioritises the patient’s and societal needs (Brennan and Monson, 2014).
The final aspect of Glasper’s definition of professionalism looks at the professional demonstrating and embracing accountability for his/her actions. This involves ‘’continuously learning and developing and enhancing their opportunities through revalidation’’ (Glasper 2017: 707). These are relevant to my role as a clinical engineer. I am registered with Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine’s Continuous Professional Development scheme which requires me to evidence my continuous learning as a professional. It is my responsibility to ensure that I am abreast with latest technological advances and laws that may have an impact on the service I provide.
The Trust requires that appraisals are conducted annually and, in my case, requested for a weekly one to one feedback session with my line manager. This provides a system to assess my own competence and performance and request for help or seek advice where needed. The article also mentions having systems in place where individuals or groups could raise their concerns, and this provides the means.
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NMC has recognised the need to value the opinion of nurses and midwives occupying leadership roles (Glasper, 2017). This contributed to the creation of strategic roles for the staff group. Within Healthcare science (HCS), there is no representation at strategic level of leadership influencing decisions across systems. To achieve this would involve bringing together this diverse workforce by introducing a strong local network.
As part of raising the profile is to identify how my role fits into various pathways highlighted in the Trust’s strategy. The varied skill set of scientists such as ability to analyse and interpret data and also take a system-based approach to problem solving can be relied on to help solve the wider issues and problems prevalent across the Trust. This could also potentially lead to realization of more research and innovative projects. The current systems and culture within the organization can also sabotage the ability of healthcare scientist to lead system wide quality improvement projects as this workforce group is heavily reliant on other services to implement change as no one knows what we do.
Mason (2017:1203) mentions that “individual clinicians’ behaviour is linked to organizational culture, policies and behaviours”. Therefore some of these behaviours need addressing across all levels. There is also the expectation on the senior management and leaders to commit to promoting diversity and inclusion and supporting the wellbeing of staff.
The NMC toolkit provides a firm basis on which members continue to play a role in strategic vision to shape future health services. Scientists should be interested in the bigger picture and should take part in conversations outside of their organisation. Within HCS, there isn’t an established formal route to communicate relevant information. To avoid this, there needs to be the creation of virtual hubs for learning and sharing information and best practises and better collaboration of HCS across the organisation. The Trust should also provide the platform for the achievement of healthcare scientists to be celebrated. For example, HCS have won a substantial research grant which is never promoted in the Trust’s newsletter however there are announcement of our professional receiving substantial grants.
Glasper (2017) mentions that to achieve professionalism, the professionals are supported to work within the upper limits of their scope of practice through provision of accessible experts within the staff group to support mentoring and practice learning and development. Within the Trust are practice development lead roles to support the development of nurses. This is lacking across the HCS workforce. There is also lack of education about the importance of mentoring to enhance role development, and healthcare scientists must be encouraged to actively participate in such schemes.
In conclusion, professionalism has become vital across different professional disciplines. This has helped to achieve streamlined practice standards that would be expected from a professional body thereby allowing individual registrants to reflect their profession’s expectations. Through reflection, this essay has helped to identify similarities in Glasper’s adopted definition as it relates to my practice as a clinical engineer. The essay has also helped to highlight essential areas where HCS workforce has failed to take advantage of the benefits of coming together as a professional body to seek representation at strategic levels within the hospital. By identifying a model of professionalism, HCS as a workforce group will effectively allow its members to have a voice that reflects its significance in the hospital and in patients’ pathways.
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