Professionalism

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PROFESSIONALISM AND LEADERSHIP?

Sam: I think professionalism can be done by one individual, while leadership needs at least two people. According to APTA’s website, professionalism is:

“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.)

I feel like all of these characteristics are the same as a good leader.

WHAT COMES FIRST, PROFESSIONALISM OR LEADERSHIP?

Amy: I believe leadership comes first. Pay attention to an elementary school playground, it is easy to see who tends to take leadership roles. By the time students get to DPT graduate program, they have probably experienced leadership roles, or they have not (because they were not the kid who took that role).

Sam: Ironically, as a student in a DPT program I think professionalism comes first. I know that everyone in my cohort has leadership skills, otherwise they couldn’t get here. Usually letters of recommendation and positions held in organizations need to reflect leadership in the application process. So if we have experience being leaders, then we need guidance in being professionals. Most of us have spent majority of our time being students, and very little time as professionals. In addition, I think we get new rules in the program to create habits of professionalism. For example, we now have to wear our name tags every day.

SHOULD LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLES BE TAUGHT OVER PROFESSIONALISM?

Sam: I don’t think everyone has to be a leader…so professionalism might be more suited for everyone. However, I think if the profession wants to grow then there needs to be leaders.

Amy: Teaching leadership will promote professionalism; however, teaching professionalism will not necessarily translate to being a leader. In my opinion, time spent on developing leadership in DPT students will pay off drastically for the profession.

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