OTalk, Professionalism

#OTalk Tuesday 6th March 2012 Professionalism – the Big Conversation

Tuesday 6th March saw the first of two #OTalk sessions devoted to the subject of professionalism, which has been highlighted by COT (http://www.cot.co.uk/news/standards-ethics/professionalism-big-conversation).

Thank you to all participants, selections of which are included here to illustrate some of the discussion.

Blog Post  –  Transcript  –  Storify  –  Post Chat Summary

The following themes emerged in the conversation:

1)      What is professionalism?

Participants offered their own perspectives on what the idea of professionalism means to them, examples included:

@BillWongOT @BAOTCOT  Professionalism means that it sets tone in the workplace, and consumers/caregivers can have certain expectations. #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:04:12 +0000)
@kirstyes @BAOTCOT But I agree with @BillWongOT about acting ethically and with respect. Being polite like you were taught by parents ;0) #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:06:05 +0000)
@Stalkerbird @BillWongOT @BAOTCOT #OTalk
Sounds like a good starting point. So many basic people skills but so crucial(Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:04:39 +0000)
@cgenter #Otalk professionalism to me is about representing the profession in a positive way, so anything that goes against this is unprofessional?(Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:09:02 +0000)
@nursemaiden @anniecoops @Helen_otuk #OTalk Nobody is perfect, professionalism is to me personally being a role model to your profession in what u do?(Tue, 06 Mar 2012 21:07:32 +0000)
@clissa89 #OTalk maybe an element of professionalism is doing what you’re supposed to do, when you’re supposed to do it(Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:09:24 +0000)
@clissa89 #OTalk MT @nursemaiden : treating my patients with care, kindness, dignity and respect and empowering colleagues to follow in foot steps(Tue, 06 Mar 2012 21:12:53 +0000)
@Helen_otuk #OTalk is professionalism about being perfect?(Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:50:58 +0000)
@clissa89 #OTalk MT @HandyOTJO : expect from all staff I work with from the top (CEO) to the bottom, including my students. Don’t always get it tho!(Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:37:54 +0000)
@ladygould1 family centred/client centred came through in one of the articles, the kirsty forsyth, jackie taylor one i think
#OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:11:26 +0000)
@Claire_OT Perhaps a relatively new concept to being professional is being client-centred #OTalk(Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:21:12 +0000)

Codes of conduct and standards of behaviour make a significant contribution to professionalism. These are developed by our professional bodies or the organisations we work for.

@GenevieveSmyth I guess professionalism is guided by our HPC and COT standards #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:05:33 +0000)
@fullyOccupied Our Trust names specific values it expects from all staff -I think this is a good positive way to promote proff behaviour #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:52:01 +0000)

Although there was a feeling that these do not necessarily provide all the answers about what is professionalism, and there is the possibility that they may contradict our professional identity.

@clissa89 #OTalk although codes & even legislation set out how to behave, is there something wider/deeper/?internal that tells us what is professonal?(Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:19:05 +0000)
@kirstyes @clissa89 But who ‘tells’ us what we are supposed to do and when? Sometimes can be guided to do something that is not part of prof?
#OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:15:27 +0000)

Some difficulty was noted in defining the concept of professionalism

@kirstyes @BAOTCOT This is a toughie. I find it’s often easier to describe what isn’t professional behaviour! #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:05:06 +0000)

For some there is a degree of interpretation involved in applying definitions of professionalism

@kirstyes @GenevieveSmyth Agree that it is guided by standards but often professional attitudes/behaviours are implicit not explicit #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:08:19 +0000)
@kirstyes @GenevieveSmyth Sometimes they are open to definition, not that I would want everything completely prescribed. #OTalk discussion is helpful(Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:09:11 +0000)
@GenevieveSmyth Maybe there are obvious areas of professional behaviour but some shades of grey where differences of opinion will occur #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:12:33 +0000)

2)      How do we learn how to be professional?

Several people commented on how our understanding of professionalism is developed through experiences we have during our training and beyond.

@GenevieveSmyth I think qualified OTs model professional behaviour for students which helps embed how to behave #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:20:09 +0000)
@ladygould1 when we qualify as an OT this does not make professional. we might be member of a profession, professionalism needs to be developed #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:20:33 +0000)

Specific sessions on professionalism in undergraduate courses were delivered in different ways.

@BillWongOT @Lisa_D_OT Rather than one boring video, USC did it in form of short skits about each area of professionalism. #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:20:37 +0000)
@clissa89 @Lisa_D_OT when they gave us session re professionalism i remember thinking “”isn’t this common sense?”” – but clearly not #otalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:53:26 +0000)

3)      What are the boundaries of professionalism?

Perhaps reflecting the uncertain nature of defining professionalism there was also some discussion about were the limits of professionalism existed.

@BAOTCOT Does a duty to act professionally extend to your life beyond work? When does the requirement of professionalism stop? #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:52:12 +0000)
@BAOTCOT For instance, see this @Guardian article today: Should we involve ourselves in neighbours’ mental health issues? http://t.co/zsj8vnyZ #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:52:58 +0000)
@GenevieveSmyth Should professional behaviour include adhering to our own advice in our personal lives e.g diet, smoking, drinking, exercise? #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 21:13:21 +0000)

This resulted in two different opinions, those who felt it extended into the personal life.

@Helen_otuk @BAOTCOT #OTalk yes extend beyond work… does not stop. I believe something about upstanding member of community???(Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:53:10 +0000)
@fullyOccupied @BAOTCOT -we have to behave in a way that supports people’s confidence in us as colleagues/therapists or at least not compromise it #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:56:22 +0000)
@fullyOccupied @BAOTCOT #OTalk in other words, it doesn’t stop!(Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:56:51 +0000)
@Annette_McBride If fully adhering to HPC and COT codes would one not be exhibiting professionalism in both private and work life? Ps just joined  #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:54:17 +0000)
@clissa89 @BAOTCOT tricky one. but if you identify yourself as OT-/student, then yes. e.g. on social media #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:54:30 +0000)

And those who challenged this idea.

@GenevieveSmyth I struggle with professionalism extended to my personal life. I think this is linked to old fashioned ideas about OT as a “”vocation”” #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:46:15 +0000)

But establishing these boundaries are important for ourselves and for the people we work with.

@clissa89 @BillWongOT clients may not be aware of the boundaries – up to us to set them in a respectful and sensitive way #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 21:11:56 +0000)

4)      What is unprofessional behaviour?

Following on from the discussion about what constituted professional behaviour there was some discussion about how unprofessional behaviour was identified. A significant part of the discussion on this subject related to how our appearance impacts our professionalism.

@ladygould1 bringing personal issues into work and letting them effect work or how you perform in work is also unprofessional #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:12:18 +0000)
@GenevieveSmyth I once sat in an OT meeting devoted to discussing the colour of socks that should be worn -is this avoidance of real issues? #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:22:28 +0000)
@BAOTCOT After @GenevieveSmyth ‘s purple socks, anyone read @JackieTaylor19 et al’s article on professionalism? Does it matter what we wear? #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:25:58 +0000)
@BAOTCOT If you’ve not, see “”Professionalism, Prejudice and Personal Taste: Does it Matter What We Wear?””: http://t.co/qjqNuev6 #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:27:40 +0000)
@Lisa_D_OT @kirstyes re tattoos – should we judge professionalism on appearance? And if we do, what message does this give to clients? #otalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:38:37 +0000)
@clissa89 #OTalk professionalism depends on context e.g. depending on client group/setting less formal clothing may be more acceptable to clients!(Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:41:32 +0000)
@fullyOccupied @clissa89 #OTalk I’ve suggested people wear what feels comfortable 2them AND would inspire respect&credibility 2wide range of colleagues &SU(Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:44:33 +0000)
@clissa89 @fullyOccupied agree & credibility v important. as support worker know skill/value of some profs are judged acc to what they wear #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:45:37 +0000)
@fullyOccupied @clissa89 #OTalk and once when student had multiple facial piercings and the older adults in the day unit were not engaging with them..!(Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:47:49 +0000)

5)      How do we deal with unprofessional behaviour?

Another area of discussion was about how to address instances of unprofessional behaviour.

@Helen_otuk #OTalk I think it is important to debate the issue of professionalism within the service setting not just as individuals?(Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:25:21 +0000)
@GenevieveSmyth How to tackle unprofessional behaviour depends on your relationship to the other OT#OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:28:04 +0000)
@kirstyes @cgenter Tricky to bring up but try to do it privately first I’d hope. #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:30:24 +0000)
@clissa89 MT @shortshannon88 : @cgenter just had a question on my practice NBCOT on this, it said to talk to the supervisor above you about it #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:31:06 +0000)
@BAOTCOT Have you ever noticed unprofessional behaviour by colleagues? What have you done about it? What is your professional duty here? #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:32:29 +0000)
@ladygould1 @BAOTCOT yes noted in with nursing staff, spoken to them directly and privately – difficult but needed to be done #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:33:17 +0000)
@Helen_otuk #OTalk @BAOTCOT Duty… depends on the behaviour observed I would suggest?(Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:33:38 +0000)
@clissa89 #OTalk RT @HandyOTJO : I have done it privately or through a general comment at a team meeting not directed at an individual.(Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:34:23 +0000)
@GenevieveSmyth I have found it easier to talk about unprofessional behaviour to students and supervisees than peers or bosses! #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:31:46 +0000)

Organisational culture was noted to have an impact on professionalism

@GenevieveSmyth I think closed cultures can allow un- professional behaviour to develop and become the norm #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:38:23 +0000)
@clissa89 @BAOTCOT can be difficult to address unprofessional behaviour if there’s a “”culture””#OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:33:35 +0000)
@kirstyes I wonder how people feel about using whistleblowing to address serious cultural unprofessionalism? #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:45:29 +0000)

6)      Use of social media and professionalism

The use of social media was a particular area of discussion in relation to professionalism

@cgenter #Otalk think the use of social media is a challenging area for professionalism, lots of grey areas, what do you share online etc(Tue, 06 Mar 2012 20:12:24 +0000)

Some people had developed their own methods for judging the appropriate use of social media

@clissa89 @kirstyes i missed this! my rule of thumb re FB is “”would i be happy for my parents, employers, and clients to see this?”” #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 21:01:16 +0000)

Guidance on appropriate use of social media is provided by our professional bodies

@BAOTCOT HPC Social Media guidelines are here for anyone interested http://t.co/euMuFK6G#OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 21:16:10 +0000)
@clissa89 @BAOTCOT think many also not clear that Code of ethics extends to social media too if identified as OT-/student #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 21:17:09 +0000)
@clissa89 @BAOTCOT i would like to see COT guidelines for SM use, like HPC.  #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 21:10:37 +0000)
@BAOTCOT We’ve been thinking about this, shouldn’t HPC ones suffice? RT @clissa89 : i would like to see COT guidelines for SM use, like HPC.  #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 21:12:36 +0000)

Details of further discussion and advice on the subject of professionalism can be found on the COT website (www.cot.org.uk)

@BAOTCOT Also, if you’d like to carry on discussing professionalism, we’ll be continuing (longer form) in our forum: http://t.co/7qweme77 #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 21:27:27 +0000)
@BAOTCOT And if you ever have any problems in your workplace, remember we have a professional enquiries service! http://t.co/F87WpCmP #OTalk (Tue, 06 Mar 2012 21:28:00 +0000)

There will be a further opportunity to continue this lively discussion in a second #OTalk session on the 20th March 8-9pm GMT.

(Addition by @kirstyes Apr 2012):

We were very happy to be approached by our professional body in the UK – @BAOTCOT (on Twitter) to use one of our #OTalk sessions to discuss issues around Professionalism. This was as part of ‘Professionalism – the Big Conversation’ – COT linked to some resources to help guide the talk.

The chat this week was very popular with us chatting well beyond our hour slot. As a consequence the following #OTalk on 20th March also focused on this topic.

Here is a link to the archive of the tweets.

And in PDF version: OT and Professionalism (1)

Here is a link to the storify summary by Andrew from BAOT too.

1 thought on “#OTalk Tuesday 6th March 2012 Professionalism – the Big Conversation”

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