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Last week’s Tip examined desirable markers for employment as perceived by peer pharmacists. One of the markers getting considerable attention is professionalism. The study referenced last week did not so much measure it specifically, but there were many implications for it, as many of the markers related to character represent various components of professionalism. Still, in spite of many papers on the subject, we all have somewhat different views on what might constitute professionalism.

Elvey et al took a very solid approach to defining professionalism in pharmacy practice through specific behaviors of the pharmacist.1 The three main pillars of professionalism were observed to be competence, having ethical values, and being a good communicator. Competence included knowledge of drugs but admitting when there is something you do not know and also being able to provide competent advice to patients on any of various health-related matters. Ethical values were associated with integrity, commitment, compassion, and putting the patient’s needs ahead of your own. Being a good communicator included the ability to communicate clearly, being respectful, polite, listening carefully, and demonstrating respect for others.

Pharmacists are looking for peers who exude professionalism to work beside them, and pharmacy managers are seeking individuals with professionalism values, particularly communication abilities, respect, and integrity. Pharmacy managers will be considering these values when hiring. But managers also should bear in mind that if these are the attributes desired by peers and by patients, then it is incumbent upon the manager to continue to educate/train the staff, reward them for these types of behaviors, and thus create a culture that clearly connotes the importance of employees behaving in these ways.

Additional information about Human Resources Management Functions and Organizational Structure and Behavior can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 4e. If you or your institution subscribes to AccessPharmacy, use or create your MyAccess Profile to sign-in to Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 4e. If your institution does not provide access, ask your medical librarian about subscribing.

1Elvey R, Hassell K, Lewis P, Schaffheutle E, et al. Patient-centered professionalism in pharmacy: Values and behaviors. J Health Organ Manag; 2015;29:413-430.

Shane Desselle

Professor of Social and Behavioral Pharmacy, Touro University California


Go to the profile of Shane Desselle
almost 2 years ago

What traits and behaviors have you observed that you would call professional? How do professional role models impact care?