Professionalism

Professionalism Definition

The following working operational definition of the elements of Vision 2020 was established by the Task Force on Strategic Plan to Achieve Vision 2020 in June 2007.

"Physical therapists consistently demonstrate core values by aspiring to and wisely applying principles of altruism, excellence, caring, ethics, respect, communication and accountability, and by working together with other professionals to achieve optimal health and wellness in individuals and communities1." (Stern DT. Measuring Medical Professionalism. Oxford University Press. New York, NY, 2006:19.)

Professionalism: Physical Therapy Core Values (.pdf)
In 2000, the House of Delegates adopted Vision 2020 and the Strategic Plan for Transitioning to A Doctoring Profession (RC 37-01). This Plan included six elements: Doctor of Physical Therapy, Evidenced-based Practice, Autonomous Practice, Direct Access, Practitioner of Choice, and Professionalism, and describes how these elements relate to and interface with the vision of a doctoring profession. In assisting the profession in its transition to a doctoring profession, one of the initiatives was to define and describe the concept of professionalism by explicitly articulating what the graduate of a physical therapist program ought to demonstrate with respect to professionalism. As a byproduct of this work, it was believed that practitioner behaviors could be articulated that would describe what the individual practitioner would be doing in their daily practice that would reflect professionalism.

Professionalism Core Values Assessment (.doc)
This self-assessment is intended for the physical therapist to develop an awareness about the core values and to self-assess the frequency with which he or she demonstrates the seven core values based on sample indicators (behaviors not intended to be an exhaustive list) that describe what the practitioner would be doing in daily practice. The seven values identified were of sufficient breadth and depth to incorporate the many values and attributes that are part of professionalism.

Values-based Behaviors for the PTA

Values-based Behaviors for the PTA provides definitions and sample indicators (examples, not an exhaustive list) that describe the actions the physical therapist assistant (PTA) would perform to express the 8 values most commonly associated with PTAs.

Articles & Video

The Power of Professionalism
PT in Motion (September 2013)

Roundtable: Professionalism in Physical Therapy
Physical therapists interviewed for "The Power of Professionalism" discuss the topic in a video roundtable conducted via Google+ Hangouts.

Professionalism Education

Professionalism Online Course Series
APTA's Task Force on Professionalism in collaboration with APTA staff has developed 7 of 12 modules in the Professionalism series that are available through the APTA Learning Center. Professionalism modules currently include:

  • Introduction to professionalism,
  • history of professionalism in physical therapy,
  • ethical compass and ethical decision-making,
  • cultural competence,
  • emotional intelligence,
  • patient-therapist relationship,
  • communication,
  • evidenced-based practice in the real world,
  • social responsibility,
  • advocacy and public policy,
  • and continuing compentence and lifelong learning.

These instructional courses incorporate reflective questions, case situations, discussion board, and assessment questions. The first 3 modules are a prerequisite for completing the advanced clinical instructor education and credentialing program and are free to members.

Online Course: Information on APTA's Revised Code of Ethics for the Physical Therapist and Standards of Ethical Conduct for the Physical Therapist Assistant
The revised Code of Ethics for the Physical Therapist (.pdf) now addresses the five roles of the PT (clinician, administrator, educator, researcher, and consultant), the core values of the profession, and the multiple realms of ethical action. The revised Standards of Ethical Conduct for the Physical Therapist Assistant (.pdf) more fully address the roles of the PTA in all areas of physical therapy and the multiple realms of ethical action. This online course provides a brief history of ethics in physical therapy, discusses the rationale for revising the Code and Standards, and examines the revised Code and Standards in detail.

Professionalism Measurement

The ability to measure professionalism within any discipline is not an easy endeavor given the breadth and depth of concepts associated with professionalism, how professionalism may change over time with experience and clinical mastery, and the ability to adequately define valid and reliable measures that incorporate behaviors, values, and attitudes. Other professions are confronted by the challenge of assessing and measuring professionalism for the purpose of admissions, student professional educational preparation, and clinical practice for practitioners. The assessment of professionalism is one of the more challenging areas that many professions are wrestling with at this time.

The Interprofessional Professionalism Collaborative (IPC) began in March 2006 and currently consists of 12 health professions and one assessment organization including the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, American Board of Internal Medicine, American Dental Education Association, American Occupational Therapy Association, American Physical Therapy Association, American Psychological Association, Association of American Medical Colleges, Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, and the National Board of Medical Examiners. The IPC has developed a definition for Interprofessional Professionalism, compiled key resources and research from the different health professions related to professionalism and interprofessional teams, defined observable behaviors associated with interprofessional professionalism, and as a part of a tool kit is currently in the process of launching an interprofessional professionalism assessment pilot study to determine the psychometric properties of the instrument.

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