Professionalism

Illustrative Cases

Illustrative cases (MLS):

These cases are intended to start conversations about professionalism in the workplace, classroom, or clinical space. They are examples of situations that many of us may find ourselves in, or identify with, in some way. They can be used as stems for educational conversations about professionalism, in one-on-one sessions or group settings. The goal is not to find the ‘perfect solution’, but rather, to be aware of the nuances at play, and to become aware of each person’s perspective, in order to make the best decision, for that moment in time.

1A. Commitment to Patients: Student
“I never mentioned any names….”
Yousef is enjoying his clinical placement and enjoys having coffee with a particular group of technologists. At coffee, in the crowded main cafeteria, they start talking hockey, when one technologist starts talking about the toxicology result of a “certain” Edmonton Oiler, without divulging his name.

Guiding Questions:
How is the confidentiality of the patient threatened?
What sort of support can peers provide in this situation?
How do time and place affect the appropriateness of this technologist’s storytelling?
What is the role of storytelling in gaining social support in the workplace? 

1B. Commitment to the Patients: Faculty
“I need the help. And she needs the money....”
An instructor is mentoring a MLS student. The student confided that she has can’t get a loan and needs a part-time job to continue paying her living expenses. The instructor’s husband is looking for part-time help at his business, and likes to hire students. The instructor calls her husband and arranges a job interview.

Guiding Questions:
Is the instructor helping the student or creating a problem?
What conflicts might arise in the future, with such an arrangement?

2A. Commitment to Society: (Student)
“I saved her a trip to the doctor, and a whole lot of stress…”
John, an MLS student, is in a relationship with Julie. Recently, Julie has disclosed to John that she thinks she might be pregnant, but she isn’t sure. Julie is panicking, because she is still in school, and doesn’t know how she would tell her parents. John offers bring her a pregnancy test kit from the lab, so that she can discretely check if she is pregnant.

Guiding Questions:
Should health professionals be allowed to use medical supplies for personal use? Does the cost of the equipment matter when deciding this?
Can you think of past experiences where you have seen this happen?

2B. Commitment to Society: (Faculty)
“But if he can’t work, it is bad for the patients…”
You are on a busy day shift in the lab. A colleague is worried about his daughter’s HbA1C, which was collected yesterday. He is trying to decide if he should take a day off work to see his daughter’s physician, to het the result. You are so exhausted from being short-staffed, already. Your colleague asks, “Hey Tom, can you check the lab result for me? If it’s normal, then I don’t have to leave tomorrow”.

Guiding Questions:
What is your understanding of NetCare privacy regarding checking this lab result?
What is the ‘circle of care’, and how does it apply, here? Are you in the circle of care for your colleague’s daughter?
How would you discuss your willingness/ unwillingness to check this lab result with your colleague?

3A. Commitment to the Profession: Student
“Wow. That was so inappropriate. What do I say?”
Dominic, a Phase 2 student, is with his preceptor when a call is received from an angry physician looking for results. The department hasn’t received the specimen. Dominic and his preceptor go to specimen receiving to look for the sample. The specimen receiving staff are chatting amongst themselves and ignore Dominic and his preceptor. Dominic’s preceptor finds the specimen in a bin and the requisition time stamped 2 hours ago but it has not been processed. Dominic’s preceptor starts yelling at the specimen receiving staff, “What the heck, guys? This arrived two hours ago, and thanks to your incompetence, I get to deal with an angry doctor”.

Guiding Questions:
What questions might you want to ask the specimen receiving staff?
How might you express your discomfort to the preceptor? Would you express it, at all?

3B. Commitment to Profession: Faculty

“I have so much to do. if I don’t delegate, I’ll never get through it.”
Nora is an MLS student who has completed one week of day shifts in core lab. She has just started her evening shifts in the same lab. Marcy, her preceptor, tells her to run the evening QC and start to enter results while she goes for dinner. Nora only observed QC during the past week, and has never entered results for that particular test. She feels uncomfortable running the evening QC, alone.

Guiding Questions:
Have you been in a situation like this before? How did you respond then?
Should Nora tell her preceptor she can’t do it? Should she report her preceptor for inadequate supervision?
Is Marcy being irresponsible? What if this is her only break today?

4A. Commitment to Self: Student
“I really want to be accommodating, but I’m so tired....”
Ann is in Phase 2, and she is also working part-time to pay tuition and living expenses. She is scheduled 8-4 at her clinical placement and 6-10 at her part-time job. Her preceptor has some exceptional circumstances this month and won’t be in until 9 each morning. She has asked Ann to come in 9-5, instead of the scheduled 8-4. Ann really like her clinical placement and would really like to get a position there when she is done, but finishing at 5 will mean she won’t have time to go home and eat/see her daughter before going to work.

Guiding Questions:
How would you respond in this situation?
What do you consider healthy professional boundaries?
What is your opinion on the value of work-life harmony? How do you achieve it?

4B. Commitment to Self: Faculty
“It’s just dinner. What’s the big deal?”
You are a newly minted technologist, and have recently moved to Edmonton. At the end of a long day, which involved staying later than expected due to some emergencies, you are finally ready to leave. Your student has worked admirably alongside you, and is equally exhausted.
You want to acknowledge this individual’s work and you are hungry! You find her in the lab, and invite her to dinner…your treat.

Guiding Questions:
What considerations are there for determining if this is an appropriate social encounter?
Does it matter if you find the student attractive?
How important do you perceive professional reputation to be?
How could this situation be perceived from an outside view?