Honouring Our Health Professionals
“We are professionals… we can do this”, Professor Marcel Levi, Chief Executive of University College London Hospital and acute medicine doctor*, 8 April 2020 Talking about our Health Professionals who are on the front line of this crisis.
Taking inspiration from genuinely inspiring people
There is a wave of love and admiration for the health professionals who are working so hard to heal us, to keep us safe and to stop people from dying.
In the UK, we are showing our appreciation for these amazing nurses, doctors and all health professionals by standing in our doorways at 8 pm on Thursdays and clapping. Most of us also show our appreciation by following their advice to stay home and observe social distancing. It barely seems enough but it’s really all we can do.
If I can’t pick up a stethoscope myself, and if clapping is all I can do along with my friends and neighbours to show them how much we care, then I will continue to do it proudly.
From the field
One doctor reports that he has seen student doctors and nurses being dropped into frontline care – they might not have quite finished their formal training but being the intelligent and committed people that they are, they are ready enough to join the battle.
Junior doctors are being called to take on cases in unfamiliar speciality areas. Highly trained and experienced specialists are taking on ‘on-call’ responsibilities, previously an unthinkable deployment of their skills.
General Practitioners are working way beyond mere ‘overtime’ to write new care pathways and to update guidelines based on their shared learning, with all the care and attention to detail that we often forget is part of their day-to-day job.
Retired doctors and nurses are returning to work to take up the fight, leaving the comfortable safety of their homes and bringing their professionalism back to where it’s so badly needed. A friend, who left his surgical career some years ago to become a management consultant, re-accredited himself as a doctor to help where he could. Amazing, inspiring.
Another way to honour our Health Professionals
When I set out to study the concept of professionalism of people who were not necessarily professionals, I spoke to many impressive people. One of my questions was ‘is there a reason for you trying to be professional?’
For every interviewee, there was at least one person in their lives whom they felt they were honouring by being as professional in their working lives as they could be. This had different shades of meaning of course – fulfilling commitments, being truly ethical, working hard, surpassing standards, doing good, contributing.
The people they were paying tribute to were very often parents or teachers from their childhood whose professionalism they observed at close quarters. As they set out in their working lives, it might have been amazing colleagues or bosses.
Honouring through action
The common point was that they all wanted to honour these special people through their actions in their working lives. I now add these health professionals to the people who inspire my own personal professionalism. My work is highly unlikely to save lives, but I do hope that by being as professional as I can, I can help people develop their working lives for the better.
By being more professional I hope that I can contribute benefit to my clients, to our economy and to our society. I won’t give up at the first sign of difficulty but find how I can still do my job in the face of new challenges. By being more professional, we can be better managers, better leaders, better employees. We will have better, more effective, efficient and ethical organisations that serve our clients and keep our society strong.
In some small way, doesn’t that honour the health professionals who are saving lives? It might not sound like much, but it’s what I am able to do.
We can all be professionals. We can all do this.