Okay, I get it, this might be an ironic post coming from me but I’m taking a different approach on this one.
There are many facets to being a professional and many of them are talked about online and in forums.
Being a professional in our industry means staying up to date on CECs, being mindful of our therapeutic relationship with patients, perform care in an ethical manner and generally be a good therapist.
There is endless amounts of information you could look up on the topic and I’m sure most colleges and associations have outlines on their websites for your reference.
However what there isn’t a lot of information on is being a professional, within your profession and dealing with your colleagues. Again this is a topic that could probably be written about over and over again with a wide array of opinion.
I would just like to cover two of the topics that I see as important.
Supporting The Less Experienced
I have been fortunate enough over the last two years to attend a couple of different conferences on manual therapy and various aspects of it.
Each time I have been able to walk away with some new knowledge, understanding, or just made some great connections with other therapists. When I heard Jason Silvernail speak at one of the conferences he made a GREAT point at the end of his discussion (I’ll quote him the best I can from memory).
“Now that you have a better understanding and more knowledge, it is your responsibility to take it home and share it with your peers.”
This isn’t just applicable with hearing new information and sharing it. It should also be applied to the profession in general. Getting started in this profession can be pretty difficult. Many factors come in to play when deciding, how to start in practice?, how to be in business for yourself?, what are quality CECs to take?
It is our responsibility to share all of this kind of information with our peers. Whether this is done online or in person, the more experienced in our industry need to share that knowledge with new grads. We have written on this blog before about using mentorship programs, following quality blogs, creating meet ups and other ways to help in this regard.
Being professional means pulling ahead those behind us, to actually pull the profession forward. We need to inspire, educate and share with those who are starting to fill the profession. As an industry massage therapy has come a long way in the last 20 years and continues expanding and progressing. There are people who led the way in this charge long before most of us were around, now it’s our responsibility to keep the momentum going.
One of the main ways to do this is by supporting and helping those with less experience, so that we never regress as a profession.
Duty To Report
It’s funny the things you remember from growing up.
I was always told that if you have an issue with someone you go directly to them first and try to deal with it and if you can’t resolve said issue, then get help from an outside source and attempt to deal with the issue that way.
In our case, when we are dealing with one of our colleagues, we have a duty to report if there is an issue with them. According to our provincial bylaws (I realize this will be different everywhere, so just using it as an example) we are required to report someone if we believe another registrant could bring harm to the public as a result of their not being competent due to mental health, emotional issues, or addictions that could impair their ability to practice, or they have been hospitalized for the above reasons. And of course we have a duty to report sexual misconduct.
However, outside of these reasons we should conduct ourselves a bit differently.
Professional courtesy has a few different definitions, depending on which field you are in but essentially it’s a way of showing professional etiquette between you and your colleagues. With doctors it has meant treating the families of colleagues, in law enforcement it could mean letting a fellow police officer off the hook of a speeding ticket.
So what should it mean to us?
I dare say, we’re not treating other Massage Therapists families for free, and we don’t deal with speeding tickets.
When we’re talking about professional behaviour and etiquette being extended between colleagues, this also means we should be up front with them. All too often we see therapists demeaning others online or making misleading statements about associations without knowing the whole story behind a specific topic. Publicizing wrong or hurtful information online is not only harmful to you as a practitioner it’s harmful to the profession. If you think a fellow therapist (or association for that matter) has done something unprofessional contact them directly to discuss it. If it is not a serious infraction like the ones laid out in the duty to report, offer enough professional courtesy to speak or message directly with them. Calling up your college or association and making anonymous complaints about unprofessionalism is well…unprofessional. It is not the job of your association or college to regulate everything, it is also up to us as professionals to self regulate.