Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Professionally in Health Care

Abstract This essay discusses what it means for health care providers to act professionally. Professionalism in healthcare refers to the process in which significant specialised knowledge and experience coming from biological, physical, and behavioural sciences are used in the care of people in need of health services. Some of the ways that a health professional shows professionalism are commitment to service, observance of social values, being competent, working in accordance to ethical standards and guidelines and showing a high level of confidentiality. Introduction Healthcare has continued to evolve over a long period of time, making it necessary for service providers to act responsibly. The changes have also necessitated change in models and practices in health service provision. There is also a need for an evaluation of the providers of health services against the needs and demands of the consumers of the health services. The kind of healthcare that is required in the society currently is one where there is active participation of the consumers (O'Neill, 2001). It should be a kind where the needs of the consumers are adequately met in an environment of reduced costs, improved quality, and improved general satisfaction of the consumers as well as the providers of the services. Most of the responsibility and demands rests with the service providers who are supposed to develop innovative ways of providing the services to the consumers. Proponents of professionalism in healthcare take professionalism to encompass not only solutions to particular professional demands or administrative issues, but also the way in which the standards of quality healthcare are observed (American College of Physicians, 2005). This essay discusses what it means for health care providers to act professionally. Professionalism in healthcare Healthcare as a profession is founded on the genuine desire of the professionals to take care of the needs, and serve others. There should also be a sense of compassion and commitment in this profession. Healthcare professionals are meant to be special people. Professionalism in healthcare refers to the process in which significant specialised knowledge and experience coming from biological, physical, and behavioural sciences are used in the care of people in need of health services. These are people who are going through changes in their normal health processes (Bunton and Macdonald, 2002). This group of people is normally in need for the clinical procedure prescribed by a person who is qualified and licensed to work as a health service provider. Professional healthcare providers perform responsibilities and tasks that are stipulated by their profession. Working outside the defined tasks and responsibilities is definitely acting in an unprofessional manner. Their responsibilities are normally based on acceptable educational preparation and competence within the framework of restorative and supportive care. The actual meaning of professionalism in healthcare is the possession of distinctive and specialised knowledge and has the self-imposed commitment to serve people. Professionals in this case are meant to show a high degree of special achievement, self-sacrifice and altruism in their interactions with the people who are in need for care as well as the general society. Treating patients with respect as well as respect for their peers is a show of professionalism (American College of Physicians, 2005). Professionals in healthcare possess unique characteristics that distinguish them from professionals in other fields. The profession is characterised by an ongoing search for knowledge as a way of providing quality services to the health service consumers. A sense of accountability and responsibility is another attribute of this profession (Royal College of Physicians, 2005). This means that health care professionals should provide the services in a responsible and should show a high level of accountability in their service delivery. They should be able and ready to deal with their patient’s concerns. Preparation through extensive education is unique to health care professionals. Their training is much specialised. They also are required to be very competent in what they are doing as have a great responsibility for lives of other people. There is normally no room for second guessing in the profession. Necessary education and qualification are therefore crucial in health care service delivery (O'Neill, 2001). It is only those who are academically qualified who can provide the required services effectively. They are also required to have an understanding of the opportunities, concerns and responsibilities that are there in the clinical practice. Professionalism in healthcare entails a commitment in scholarly investigation for the purpose of identifying, refining and expanding the body of knowledge. Disease and ailments are evolving creating new needs for medical services. The only way of ensuring that service providers are up-to-date with the new developments in diseases and can develop innovative solutions to the problems facing the people in need, is continuing developing a new body of knowledge. This also shows high level of commitment to service to the people in need. In addition, the need to continue the learning process is related to development of competence and professionalism in healthcare service delivery (American College of Physicians, 2005). Commitment and observation of public values is another distinctive quality of the profession in healthcare. There are various standards and guidelines that have been developed to guide professionals in healthcare and clinical practice. Every healthcare or medical professional is supposed to work in accordance to the standards and guidelines. The standards and guidelines set apart medical practice based on ethical commitments. Provision of quality care is one of the major concerns in different countries in the world (Veatch, Gaylin and Steinbock, 1996). This is the reason why healthcare professional organizations as well as governments design and implement the standards and guidelines to enhance quality of care. The guidelines and standards require that health care services are provided within a safe and secure environment. The kind of service provided should be needed and required by the consumers. Any person in need for health care service should receive it in a safe, ethical and legal manner. Ethics are other areas of professionalism in health care. Ethics and legal standards are developed to streamline health care service delivery. Acting in accordance to the ethics and legal standards shows a high level of professionalism in healthcare (Bunton and Macdonald, 2002). There are various ethical principles that guide medical professionals in decision making. Making ethical decisions is a show of professionalism. Health care professionals are faced with various ethical dilemmas in their daily interactions with patients. It is easy for these professionals to fall off the line if they are not careful in handling the dilemmas. The ability to deal with different situations determines the quality of care in the health care system. Application of the principles helps a lot in making these decisions. The principle of beneficence in healthcare refers to the acts which are in the best interest of the person in need of care. Health care professionals are supposed to wok in such a way that it is in the best interest of the patient. Another principle that is used is the principle of non-maleficence (Veatch, Gaylin and Steinbock, 1996). This principle refers to avoiding causation of harm. People in need of health care services come to see service providers in the hope that their suffering will be reduced or completely done away with. It is the professional duty of the service provider to offer his services in a way that avoids causing harm to the patient. The principle of autonomy argues that people should be allowed make decisions that affect their lives. This does not mean that allowing patients to make all decisions affecting their lives is in their best interest. For instance, allowing a patient to refuse treatment may not amount to acting professionalism. This is where the principle of informed consent comes in. It is the professional duty of the service provider to provide the patient with all the necessary information before letting him make the decision. Professionals are able to apply ethical principles on the basis of the situation. Therefore, as a professional, one should be able to apply the right principle to the right situation. Ethical principles characterize the standards of professional practice. Code of ethics therefore, work as an assurance of promotion and protection of the well-being of the patients (Skok, Swerissen and Macmillan, 2000). Following legal standards and guidelines is a show of professionalism in healthcare. Different countries have different legal standards and guidelines that guide professionalism in health care. Governments have a high commitment to the quality of health care. Decisions that are made in this profession should be made in accordance to what is legal. The continuing safety and quality of healthcare in the society is a major concern of governments in countries such as Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom. Whenever there are reforms in health care, health care professionals are targeted in their service to humanity (Atwal, 2009). For instance, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care is a government-funded commission that is aimed at developing a national tactical framework for guiding the efforts towards improvement of safety and quality of the healthcare services across the country. Professional incompetent or failure to act professionally refers to one or more incidences of failure to work according to the set standards to a level which amounts to gross negligence. Development of technology in medicine and the resulting expansion in the responsibilities of health care professionals has led to an increase in malpractice and incompetence. Acting according to the acceptable behavior in healthcare amounts to professionalism. Duty to the patient, avoidance of harm, and protection of life are some of the legal basis of professionalism in health care (Bunton and Macdonald, 2002). Confidentiality is a very important aspect of professionalism in healthcare. Professionals in healthcare cannot work well without adequate information from patients. It is from this information that they are able to provide quality and effective services to the consumers. It has been realised that better-quality of patient care depends on the amount of information available and how well the information can be processed and managed. Use of technology in healthcare has affected how the information is managed and used. A lot of information can be gathered effectively and in a timely manner (Skok, Swerissen and Macmillan, 2000). This has also brought about the problem with information privacy. Much of the information that is provided by patients is confidential. It is therefore the responsibility of the professional to ensure that this remains the case. Confidentiality is a very important factor in health are and human service delivery. Even in the face of information technology where confidentiality is easy to compromise, it is the responsibility of the professional to ensure that they maintain the information as safe as possible. A high level of confidentiality in health care reveals a high level of professionalism (Atwal, 2009). Conclusion This essay discusses what it means for health care providers to act professionally. There have been various changes in health care necessitating a high need for professionalism. Professionalism in healthcare refers to the process in which significant specialised knowledge and experience coming from biological, physical, and behavioural sciences are used in the care of people in need of health services. There are various acts that amount to professionalism in health care. Health care professionals are individuals who are supposed to have a high level of achievement and competence. They are also supposed to be in continuous pursuit of knowledge to be able to cater for the needs of their clients. Responsibility and accountability are some of the attributes that sets these professionals apart. Choice of methods and decision making that follows ethical principles are important in the profession. Commitment and observance of the values of the people is important in the health care and medical profession. There are effective ethical and legal frameworks that guide health care service delivery against negligence and incompetence. Quality of care is generally important in the health care sector. Health care professionals observing all these elements in their service to the public are professional actors. Professionalism in health care is guided by the fact that the professionals have an inherent commitment to service to humanity, as well as the ethical and legal standards and guidelines. Healthcare as a profession is founded on the genuine desire of the professionals to take care of the needs, and serve others. References: American College of Physicians. (2005). Medical Professionalism in the Changing Health Care Environment: Revitalizing Internal Medicine by Focusing on the Patient-Physician Relationship. Ethics and Human Rights Committee Position Paper Atwal, A. (2009). Preparing for Professional Practice in Health and Social Care, Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell Bunton R. & Macdonald G. (2002). Health promotion: disciplines, diversity, and developments. 2nd ed. London & New York: Routledge. O'Neill, O. (2001). Practical Principles & Practical Judgment, The Hastings Center Report, 31(3). Royal College of Physicians, (2005). Doctors in Society. Medical Professionalism in a Changing World. Report of a Working Party. Skok, A., Swerissen, H. & Macmillan, J. (2000). Standards and Quality Improvement Processes in Health and Community Services: A Review of the Literature, Conducted as part of a project funded by the Department of Health and Aged Care Veatch, R. M., Gaylin, W. & Steinbock, B. (1996). Can the Moral Commons Survive Autonomy? The Hastings Center Report, 26(5).