Professionalism, education and healthcare practice

Alan Cribb, Professor of Bioethics and Education at King’s College London, gave an impressively broad-ranging and thought-provoking seminar that explored key conceptual and normative issues in current debates around professionalism.
‘Professionalism’ is high on policy, education and research agendas. The concept features strongly, for example, in contemporary concerns about: the implications of ‘protocolising’ practice in the pursuit of effectiveness, efficiency and safety; the erosion of ideals that occurs as students progress through professional education; and the dilemmas that arise for health professionals with plural roles (nurses employed to recruit patients to clinical trials, GPs serving as commissioners of services for populations, etc.).
Alan highlighted the interconnections between understandings of professionalism that focus on the possession of admirable personal qualities and understandings that focus on social issues of authority and co-ordination. He then raised questions about the kinds of norms that are related to notions of ‘expertise’ and ‘social authority’, and challenged us with reflections on whether a ‘new professionalism’ (which involves inter-professional team working in the context of regulated organisations, reflects aspirations for more equal professional-client relations, and works to population as well as individual concerns) can be both desirable and possible.
Alan’s presentation stimulated a thoughtful discussion that highlighted some important commonalities of interest among academics involved in professional education and research into professionalism in medicine, nursing, dentistry and social work. Subsequent conversations have suggested interest in further meetings to foster cross-disciplinary exchanges to strengthen ongoing work across the universities of Dundee and St Andrews.

If you are interested, please let us know by contacting Rosanne Bell at SDHI r.c.bell @dundee.ac.uk.

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