Click the following links to be taken to the corresponding section of the module:

  1. What is Professionalism?
  2. Interactive Scenarios - Part 1
  3. Interactive Scenarios - Part 2
  4. Interactive Scenarios - Part 3
  5. Appendix
  6. Further Reading and Resources


Professionalism is a core requisite for all clinical staff, yet it is often called into question.

Professionalism includes a variety of different behaviours, ranging from the expression on our face, undermining team members or driving over the legal limit. Although we are all aware of the expectation to behave in a professional manner at work not everyone is aware that this also extends to our personal life. Lapses in professionalism can be very challenging for supervisors to manage, particularly if culture or specific personality traits are thought to play a part.

Under pressure and stress, our professional behaviour can slip, and we all rely on our colleagues to bring it to our attention at the time. Reminders that we are steering off the path of professionalism can be extremely beneficial for our growth. How we listen and respond to feedback is an important measure of our commitment to reflection. Reviewing our values, beliefs and behaviours is essential to develop our professional skills further.

Occasionally, a professional’s probity will be called into question. For example, in misleading a supervisor by claiming hours not actually worked or implying another team member was responsible for an error when it is not true. All would agree that dishonesty, whatever your profession, is never acceptable. Sometimes lack of maturity, inexperience in recognising the seriousness of a situation or cultural differences may play a part in inadvertent wrongdoing.


Reflection and self-review are essential for all clinical staff and this module is designed for the multi-disciplinary healthcare team at all stages in their career. The module consists of a short self-review questionnaire, podcast and reading materials. The examples given are all real, redacted scenarios for you to consider the professional behaviour of a member of the health care team. After noting your own view, click on ‘supervisor comments’ to read their opinion.


How to use this module:

In the first section (What is Professionalism) you can watch the podcast where Fiona O’Sullivan, ophthalmology and Nigel Fisher, secondary care dentistry, talk about their experiences and give tips on maintaining professionalism.

In the following sections you can test yourself by scrolling through the scenarios and questions followed by the responses of a supervisor from that health care specialty. There are links to relevant professional regulators for further information. You can also use the examples as the basis for discussion with colleagues at a multi-disciplinary team meeting or development event.


Author: Helen Halpern

Thanks to contributors: Nigel Fisher, May Nel, Catherine O’Keeffe, Peter Brodrick, John Launer, Naomi Brecker, Fiona O’ Sullivan, Jocelyn Hewitt and G Stephens

Date published: February 2021