Occupational therapy professionals must be devoted to responsible, accountable, ethical, and compassionate service delivery to provide the highest quality care to consumers in this ever-changing health care environment. Without clear standards or policies about professionalism, students, clinicians, and leaders may operate in ways that jeopardize safety and limit progress in health care.
Professionalism is the conduct, aims, or qualities that define a profession or professional person (DuPree, Anderson, McEvoy, & Brodman, 2011). The aforementioned attributes—responsibility, accountability, ethical practice, and compassion—are some of the qualities included in the construct of professionalism that are upheld by the Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy (ASOT) at Spalding University. As such, ASOT has adopted the following definition of professionalism: “Professionalism in occupational therapy clinical practice is a dynamic sophistication exemplified by a combination of an individual’s personal skill set, knowledge, behaviors, and attitudes, and the adoption of the moral and ethical values of the profession and society” (DeIuliis, 2017, p. 37).
Professionalism is critical for promoting effective, efficient, and safe environments for patients, clients, the public, and health care professionals alike. When standards of professionalism are cultivated and upheld, the result increases safety for all. Because of this link between professionalism and the safety and protection of all stakeholders, ASOT’s position about professionalism is that all students within its Occupational Therapy Doctoral (OTD) program will comply with its Statement of Professionalism and related policies, all of which align and support the mission of Spalding University.
ACOTE has included five specific OTD standards related to professional behaviors.
Standard A.3.5. states: "Evaluation must occur on a regular basis and feedback must be provided in a timely fashion in the following areas: student progress, professional behaviors, and academic standing."
Standard A.3.7. states: "Advising related to professional coursework, professional behaviors, fieldwork education, and the doctoral capstone must be the responsibility of the occupational therapy faculty."
Standard A.5.7. states: "The program must have written syllabi for each course... Assessment strategies to assure the acquisition of knowledge, skills, attitudes, professional behaviors, and competencies must be aligned with course objectives and required for progress in the program and graduation."
Standard A.6.3. states: "Programs must routinely secure and document...information to allow for analysis about...the program. This includes: (third bullet out of 12) Students' competency in professional behaviors."
Standard B.7.0. states: "....Professional behaviors include the ability to advocate for social responsibility and equitable services to support health equity and address social determinants of health; commit to engaging in lifelong learning; and evaluate outcomes of services, which include client engagement, judicious health care utilization, and population health."
ASOT faculty have created unique learning experiences and evaluative items to cultivate OTD student professional behaviors that meet or exceed these five ACOTE standards. The OTD student is responsible for understanding and upholding the ASOT OTD Statement of Professionalism, which is the primary document that will be used by students and faculty throughout the ASOT OTD program.
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