Graduate Studies

What is professionalism?

“The single most important ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

A profession is “an occupation whose core element is work based upon the mastery of a complex body of knowledge and skills”. It is a vocation in which knowledge of some department of science or learning or the practice of an art founded upon it is used for the betterment of humanity.

Its members are governed by codes of ethics and profess a commitment to competence, integrity and morality, altruism, respect, and the open communication with the public .
These commitments form the basis of a social contract between a profession and society, which in return grants the profession a monopoly over the use of its knowledge base, the right to considerable autonomy in practice. Professions and their members are accountable to those served and to society.”

Core Values of the Responsible Conduct of Research Include:
• Honesty
• Accuracy
• Efficiency
• Objectivity

However, integrity and professional standards for scientists extends beyond their research findings and their treatment of research subjects. It also includes relationships with their team, learners, colleagues, and themselves.

Core Values of Professionalism also include:
• Integrity and Honesty
• Altruism and Commitment to Excellence
• Compassion and Caring
• Respect for Diversity
• Dedication and Self-improvement
• Teamwork
• Respectful Communication
• Morality and Ethical Conduct
• Social Accountability
• Confidentiality
• Mindful and reflective approach to practice
• Responsibility to self, including personal care

One of our central goals at the University of Alberta, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, is to help both students and faculty understand the values of professionalism, and continue to develop and refine their own sense of professional identity. Our sense of professionalism, or professional identity, is perpetually evolving; awareness of the factors that contribute to it will help guide its development.

It is the lack of professional conduct, not inadequate knowledge or technical skills, that leads to complaints against FoMD members. Unfortunately, the terms we use to explain professionalism are abstract and, therefore, hard to characterize; altruism, integrity, compassion, and respect are concepts that may be difficult measure in practice.4 We need to make the recognition of professionalism overt and tangible such that we may improve the training environment, and satisfaction for researchers.

This website was created to help you understand that professionalism is a key component to our research professions. Through provision of definitions, case vignettes, imagery, and references, we hope to provide you with some real tools that you may then use to reflect upon your own professionalism, and that of those who surround you. These resources may help you with coursework, or challenges that you encounter in your graduate and research work, but they are also meant to help you to grow as a person.... a person who has the privilege of working in a research environment.

1"Profession": a working definition for medical educators. Cruess SR, Johnston S, Cruess RL. Teach Learn Med. 2004 Winter;16(1):74-6. Review.
PMID: 14987179
4Defining professionalism from the perspective of patients, physicians, and nurses. Green M, Zick A, Makoul G. Acad Med. 2009 May;84(5):566-73. PMID: 19704188.