Professionalism – A case for medical education to honour the societal contract

Nico Nortjé, Jo-Celene de Jongh

Abstract


Background: This study explores the concept of professionalism from the vantage point of a cohort of students as well as professionally qualified and practising occupational therapists. With the changes health care delivery is experiencing nationally as well as internationally, there is an urgent need to identify students and qualified professionals’ expectations of what influences the development thereof, as well as elicit perceptions of attributes which contribute to professionalism.

Methods: The study is primarily a descriptive study with a specific focus on a mixed method of quantitative and qualitative research designs, using interpretative phenomenological analysis methodology. Data were gathered from 56 final-year and 55 professionally registered occupational therapists, who participated in a pen-and-paper questionnaire consisting of three sections.

Results: The results of this study indicated a clear differentiation between the influence of both the formal and hidden curricula and that clinical competence, client-centred practice and professional standards contributed mostly to professional behaviour.

Conclusion: This study brings to light the experiences of students and professional practitioners to what they expect would influence the professional conduct. The findings are open to theoretical generalizability and raise issues that may be used by academic staff in the preparation of students to become more professional, as well of future Continuous Professional Development training.

Key words: Professionalism; Clinical competence; Client-Centred practice; Professional standards


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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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