What does it Mean to be Professional at Work?

Professionalism can easily be defined by how one carries and conducts him or herself in the workplace. A huge goal, specifically in the healthcare workplace, is to maintain a proper level of professionalism, especially when working in patient care. It is a skill that is developed with practice, experience and a lot of patience. In order to maintain such a level, one must carry certain characteristics within himself or herself. Professionalism is extremely important and something that people, specifically supervisors and patients, really look for in their employees and the people that are taking care of them. Below are some characteristics described in further detailed descriptions.

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A professional’s attire says a lot about them. It is important to dress up the job’s standards, whether that be a suit and tie or just a normal pair of work scrubs. A work uniform should always be pressed or ironed. Ripped clothing of any kind is never appropriate. No matter how long someone has been at their job, he or she should always dress to impress. One should always make sure that they look clean and appropriate as well. Personal hygiene is key as well. A shower is very important and so is brushing one’s teeth and hair. These are things that are not at all hard but that some people lack and need help with. No appearance is complete without a good, friendly smile. Without a smile to greet colleagues, patients, or bosses, a person looks angry or unapproachable. A nice smile really completes a good look and says a lot about a good appearance. (Fuller, 2013)

Reliability is a big part of being professional, especially in the workplace. Reliability simply means that someone can count on someone else for any particular thing, whether it be for being to work on time, or doing something correctly every time. Always show up to work everyday. And, always show up to work on time. Try to show up early if one is able to because it looks better. In healthcare, there are going to be a lot of emergency situations, so being a person that someone else can can rely on, will be a really big deal. If one can be relied on, that usually means that he or she can be trusted. It’s always good to be trusted, especially in the workplace setting. Patients really want someone taking care of them that they can trust with their life and that they can really rely on; try to always be that person.

Phone etiquette, such as talking over the phone, or netiquette (network etiquette) is a characteristic that is growing to be more of a big deal now-a-days with the growth of technology. People rely heavy on the use of technology now. Email is the main way people communicate with each other within the workplace now. It is very easy to misinterpret how someone means something over the phone or over a text message and/ or email because we cannot see faces. An email is a legal document and should always be treated as such. Flaming, which is typing in all capital letters, is never ever an appropriate thing to do. When using email, never use abbreviations. Always spell out full words and try to avoid using conjunctions. Always try to use shorter sentences and get straight to the point, avoid long sentences. (Fuller, 2013)

Accountability is a term that means taking responsibility for one’s actions, even in a professional sense. Accountability is extremely important in a professional workplace. Showing accountability when one makes a mistake or does something wrong will show a supervisor or manager will speak volumes. It will show the supervisor that one is serious and really cares about the job at stake. Delegation is when someone puts his or her task or job duties onto someone else. The accountability lies still with the delegator and the person being delegated. An accountable person is a person that someone wants to work with, no one will have to worry about that person making a mistake and putting the blame on anyone else. They will automatically take the blame themselves. (Half, 2014)

Communication is probably one of the most important characteristics of professionalism that there is. Communication can be broken into two categories- verbal and nonverbal. Verbal communication can either be written or spoken. Verbal communication is critical in patient care. Patients want to know that they are being listened to and being well taken care of. They really want to know what is going on with them so being able to speak clearly and understandably is important. When speaking, the tone of voice is very important. That can give away how one really feels at the moment; whether or not the person is really engaged in that conversation or just does not care. (Fuller, 2013)

Non verbal communication would be best described as body language. Body language can be gestures, one’s posture or one’s facial expressions. Someone’s body language can be a dead giveaway for how they really feel about what is going on around them. No matter what is being thought about inside one’s head, the body language will tell the receiver how that person really feels. For example, if someone rolls his or her eyes, that usually means that they are irritated or bored with what is going on around them and would rather be doing something else at the moment.

Being a competent person is being a person that is able to do most things efficiently and successfully. Efficiency is huge in the workplace, especially in healthcare. Healthcare is a very fast pace setting and things need to get done at a rapid pace. So, efficiency is key. Those that are the least competent tend to hang lower on the totem pole and get pushed to the side. Supervisors look for competency within their employees. Competent people usually get promoted and hang on to higher positions. (CareerBliss, 2011)

With professionalism, sometimes comes people that are unprofessional. Unprofessionalism can definitely alter the workplace. Someone being unprofessional can affect the people around them at work and just make work flat out miserable. If everyone at work acts appropriately, dresses appropriately, communicates appropriately, takes accountability for their actions, is reliable and is just an all around great team player, then that would be a great and smooth professional workplace to be in. It really helps when certain rules and regulations are set in stone at work for the employees to follow, that way no one is under any wrong impressions of what to do and nothing is up in the air. The way one should act should always be kind of a given. Professionalism makes the workplace run smoothly and when one person ruins that, it kind of ruins the entire workplace. It throws everything off balance. Be reliable, be accountable, be on time, be punctual, but most importantly, no matter what, always remain professional.


CareerBliss. (2011, December 13). Business Insider. Retrieved from Businessinsider.com: https://www.businessinsider.com/be-perceived-as-competent-in-the-workplace-2011-12

Fuller, J. K. (2013). Surgical Technology Principles and Practice 6th ed. Macon, Georgia: Elsevier.

Half, R. (2014, June 6). Professionalism: An essential career skill. Retrieved from Careerbuilder.com: https://www.careerbuilder.com/advice/professionalism-an-essential-career-skill

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What Does It Mean to Be Professional at Work?. (2019, Apr 12). Retrieved December 3, 2022 , from

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