The word professionalism is used extensively in our everyday lives, but do we really understand what it is to be a professional? A professional is someone who wears a white coat and is super intelligent, right? Growing up, that’s the image we gather but, what does it really mean to be a professional? Being a professional does apply to the external appearance but what is it intrinsically that makes a person a professional? Professionalism is the demonstration of structural, attitudinal and behavior attributes of a profession. The structural component is the physical attributes that are visible to others, this includes professional presentation through hygiene, dress and educational level. A professional attitude is believing in service to the public regardless of personal demographics.
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Professional behavior is the demonstration of putting others needs above one’s own.
The key tenets of professionalism consist of altruism, honesty and integrity, accountability and respect. As a professional it is a pharmacist’s duty to acquire these attributes. Altruism is the unselfish commitment to serve in the best interests of the patient, regardless of the patients’ demographics. Altruism entails putting the patients’ needs above one’s own. Honesty and integrity are expressed by being fair, truthful and always keeping the best interest of the patient in mind and must be displayed in all that one does. Accountability is fulfilling the implied covenant pharmacists have with their patients and addressing societal health needs. It is necessary for professionals to treat others with respect, by expressing empathy and compassion to all. Each of these tenets are part of the pharmacist’s professional duty.
We learn how to become a professional from others who display professionalism in our own life experiences. I have witnessed many instances in which pharmacists have displayed professionalism, three of which I will never forget. My retail pharmacy manager and I were closing the pharmacy and the gate was shut when a patient walked in. My manager could’ve easily turned the patient away however, instead we filled the patient’s medications and the pharmacist gave a proper patient counseling session. The second was a mission trip that my pharmacy manager led. I did not have the chance to join the trip however hearing about the experience was the reason I decided to become a pharmacist. The last experience took place in a hospital where one of the pharmacists I worked for took the time to hear a patient’s story. The pharmacist discovered that the patient was homeless and unable to buy their prescriptions. The pharmacist worked with the social workers to find housing and access to medications.
The acts of professionalism that I have observed, reflect how I will behave professionally towards my classmates, faculty and future patients. I intend on displaying professionalism towards my classmates by being accountable for completing actions in and outside of the classroom that create a culture within our school that fosters the development of professionalism through collaborative learning and extracurricular activities. I will behave professionally towards faculty and staff members by being punctual, communicating respectfully and by seeking guidance and active involvement regarding my education. In my future pharmacy practice, I will behave professionally by holding myself accountable to care and provide care of the highest standards of excellence. I will dedicate myself to be an active patient advocate striving to reach a covenantal relationship based on trust, honesty and integrity with every patient.
In conclusion, professionalism is the internal motivation for development of professional attitudes, behaviors, ethics, and values. To me, being a pharmacy professional means to provide patient specific services in an ethical and compassionate manner, to provide judgement and assistance to those without the same knowledge or expertise and to become a leader in the community. A healthcare professional continually strives to improve themselves and the lives of those around them.
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