Dec 02

Professional Repsect: a right or an honour?

Yesterday, I worked a very long locum night shift at a nice district general hospital.  Sadly, what had been a relatively pleasant on call experience was ruined by my successor being 2 HOURS late for his shift! He had in fact forgot that he was on call and after an hour back and forth with medical staffing we finally tracked him down, only to discover he was at a different hospital site within the Trust.  Upon speaking with the junior staff on the ward I learned that being late was par for the course for this gentleman and that he was renowned for the lack of support he provided his junior members of staff.

Eventually, he contacted me to say he was five minutes away and could I meet him outside the main entrance to handover the bleep and on call room keys.  I booked a taxi and stood outside waiting for his arrival.  15 minutes, one irate taxi driver and 10 frozen fingers later he finally arrived!  By this point I was needless to say more than a little frustrated!  He apologised curtly and said “It was not intentional”…. I should hope it wasn’t intentional, otherwise I would be on the phone to the GMC to discuss his total lack of professional conduct!

As it was this experience fueled me into one of my age old rants about professionalism in medicine.  Sadly, the tale of this doctor was a tale I was all to familiar with; tardiness, ignornace, lack of humility, lack of support for junior colleagues….

Professionals are persons who have been trained and educated to conduct very specific tasks and are often in positions of respect and trust.  As medical professionals we have a duty of care to our patients and a duty of professional courtesy to our colleagues.  At the very least a professional should be competent, punctual, polite and considerate of those around them. At the very most they should set examples for other members of society in their approach to moral and work ethics.

Sadly too many professionals see thier elevated status as an opportunity to abuse the system.  Turning up for work when they feel like it, treating staff and clients (or patients) as inferior or lowly, swanning through existence with an air of arrogance and entitlement…these are just some of the tragic and misguided behaviours we see exhibited by a minority of “professionals”.  Thus, the minority not only give the rest of us a bad name, but they tarnish our entire professions, sometimes to the point where the profession itself begins to lose credibility and respect.  This undermining of true professionalism is intolerable and should not be allowed to continue festering in our midst!

The respect afforded to professionals is an honour to be cherished and earnt every day, not a right endowed when one gains a degree certificate!  The opportunity to act as a role model in society is not one to be taken lightly…so to my collagues who think they are gifts from God and that the world will bend to please their whims…. PLEASE grow up and start behaving like a real professional or consider an alternative career!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.clairemariethomas.com/2010/12/professional-repsect-a-right-or-an-honour/

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