Professionalism encompasses expectations of objective standards for evaluating any and all professions. This researcher/ author categorizes professionalism into heart, mind, and soul. The author stresses throughout this article that each category of professionalism plays an equal and vital role in the profession of OT. Extra emphasis shouldn’t be placed on any of the categories over the others.
The Heart of professionalism means that people must consider their work to be important and “good” for the well-being of others or for society as a whole. In other words, a professional’s work is so valuable that money isn’t the only measure or purpose behind the worker’s efforts. Often times, this results in people having pride in what they do, and truly caring for those in which they serve. The author/ researcher describes living professionalism as professionals who serve society above self-interests. To infuse heart into your work is to instill meaning within your own life while at the same time helping to better the world. Wood (2004), encourages OTs to not become discouraged with productivity, efficiency, or cost-containment. She asks that OTs not let these factors of our profession take away the heart of our professionalism, but she acknowledges that it won’t be easy because it takes a tender and compassionate heart to acknowledge and promote these aspects of our profession.
The Mind of professionalism refers to the cultivation of the mind, since all professions must have a specialized body of knowledge that is unique to that profession. The current push for evidence-based practice is an example of the mind of professionalism. OTs are mandated to continue their education beyond their formal schooling in the form of CEUs. This is one of many possible efforts for OTs to commit substantive human, institutional, and financial resources to build upon and communicate Occupational Therapy’s corresponding knowledge -base. She refers to practicing without the knowledge-base of OT scholars as “decapitation”, and it can feel as if you’re working blindly with no foundation. By merely imitating what you’ve seen more experienced therapists do, you are missing out on the analysis of “why” a client should do that specific intervention approach. In some ways it’s a way of generalizing OT, and some day someone’s not going to fit into that generalization, so your services will not help them and may in fact harm them. It is our professional obligation to broaden our mind within our profession’s knowledge base. After all, how can we stand up for our profession and prevent boundary blurring between similar professions if we don’t have the research to back up the outcomes that we as OTs see everyday? A great OT must have a mind that knows how to feel and a heart that knows how to think.
The Soul of Professionalism signifies OTs unique ability to “ create authentic connections to others as expressed in the imperfect, complex, nuanced, and often tense and conflicted particulars of everyday places and activities”. Soul in professionalism is attainable through the way professionals connect with each other; it must be honest, critically evaluative, and dedicated towards realizing the greater good in each other. Creative conflict is a wonderful outlet for the soul to be cultivated, because it allows those involved, not to promote anger and hostility, but to encourage correction and enlightenment of biases and weaknesses. The soul helps to maintain a balance between the mind and heart of professionalism, because it allows OTs to answer fiduciary responsibilities while changing to remain up to date with their practice. Soul of professionalism requires a lot of trust and trust-worthiness, since it is necessary for everyone to be tender and not vengeful with their critiques and open for hearing critiques against themselves.