You’ve probably heard the word “professionalism.” It’s a buzzword that gets tossed around in clinic and the classroom, but how often do we stop to think about what it really means?
Professionalism means you are a member of a profession – that’s not simply a job! A profession is a group that declares publicly that their members will act and behave in a certain way, and professionals follow a strict code of ethics with the ultimate goal of serving society (AMBS 2018). It may seem a little silly to have this idea in writing. Of course we are going to do the utmost in our power to support a patient and provide good care! Yet, audiology is one profession that does not have a universally agreed upon code of ethics.
Have you ever heard of the Hippocratic Oath? As incoming medical students receive their white coat, they recite this code of ethics, swearing to do no harm, share knowledge, and respect senior physicians (North 2012). Multiple speech and/or hearing organizations, including the American Academy of Audiology and American Speech-Language Hearing Association provide their suggestions and guidelines for professional conduct. Unlike the field of medicine, audiology lacks an overarching ethical framework. It can be hard to understand the dos and don’ts of professionalism, especially as a student trying to navigate the blurry dynamic between patient, student, and preceptor. As audiology grows and evolves, having one comprehensive ethics code will help us all be better professionals and providers.
I propose that upon entering the profession, whether that is before externship or at graduation, all audiology students should recite a professionally agreed upon oath vowing to treat all patients with respect and care, to provide evidence-based practice, and promising to devote themselves to continually being educated and knowledgeable to provide the best care.
Perhaps it’s a bit silly, but we are professionals. In times of stress and confusion, it might be nice to think of the oath we all took and remember that by working together and putting the patient first, we can change lives.
Anna is a third-year audiology student at the University of Washington in Seattle. This is her second year as the State Ambassador for Washington and she is also serving as Social Chair of her local SAA chapter. Anna enjoys working with patients across the lifespan and is particularly interested in ototoxicity and medical audiology.
Hafferty, F. W., Papadakis, M., Sullivan, W., & Wynia, M. K. (2012, January 18). ABMS Definition of Medical Professionalism. Retrieved November 7, 2019, from www.abms.org.
North, M. (2012, February 7). Greek Medicine – The Hippocratic Oath. Retrieved from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/greek/greek_oath.html.
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