For the academic journal entitled "Professional Ethics", see Professional Ethics (journal).
Professional ethics encompass the personal, and corporate standards of behavior expected by professionals.
The word professionalism originally applied to vows of a religious order. By at least the year 1675, the term had seen secular application and was applied to the three learned professions: Divinity, Law, and Medicine. The term professionalism was also used for the military profession around this same time.
Professionals and those working in acknowledged professions exercise specialist knowledge and skill. How the use of this knowledge should be governed when providing a service to the public can be considered a moral issue and is termed professional ethics.
It is capable of making judgments, applying their skills, and reaching informed decisions in situations that the general public cannot because they have not attained the necessary knowledge and skills. One of the earliest examples of professional ethics is the Hippocratic oath to which medical doctors still adhere to this day.
Some professional organizations may define their ethical approach in terms of a number of discrete components. Typically these include:
Most professionals have internally enforced codes of practice that members of the profession must follow to prevent exploitation of the client and to preserve the integrity of the profession. This is not only for the benefit of the client but also for the benefit of those belonging to that profession. Disciplinary codes allow the profession to define a standard of conduct and ensure that individual practitioners meet this standard, by disciplining them from the professional body if they do not practice accordingly. This allows those professionals who act with a conscience to practice in the knowledge that they will not be undermined commercially by those who have fewer ethical qualms. It also maintains the public’s trust in the profession, encouraging the public to continue seeking their services.
In cases where professional bodies regulate their own ethics, there are possibilities for such bodies to become self-serving and fail to follow their own ethical code when dealing with renegade members. This is particularly true of professions in which they have almost a complete monopoly on a particular area of knowledge. For example, until recently, the English courts deferred to the professional consensus on matters relating to their practice that lay outside case law and legislation.
In many countries there is some statutory regulation of professional ethical standards such as the statutory bodies that regulate nursing and midwifery in England and Wales. Failure to comply with these standards can thus become a matter for the courts.
For example, a lay member of the public should not be held responsible for failing to act to save a car crash victim because they could not give an appropriate emergency treatment. Though, they are responsible for attempting to get help for the victim. This is because they do not have the relevant knowledge and experience. In contrast, a fully trained doctor (with the correct equipment) would be capable of making the correct diagnosis and carrying out appropriate procedures. Failure of a doctor to not help at all in such a situation would generally be regarded as negligent and unethical. Though, if a doctor helps and makes a mistake that is considered negligent and unethical, there could be egregious repercussions. An untrained person would only be considered to be negligent for failing to act if they did nothing at all to help and is protected by the "Good Samaritan" laws if they unintentionally caused more damage and possible loss of life.
A business may approach a professional engineer to certify the safety of a project which is not safe. While one engineer may refuse to certify the project on moral grounds, the business may find a less scrupulous engineer who will be prepared to certify the project for a bribe, thus saving the business the expense of redesigning.
On a theoretical level, there is debate as to whether an ethical code for a profession should be consistent with the requirements of morality governing the public. Separatists argue that professions should be allowed to go beyond such confines when they judge it necessary. This is because they are trained to produce certain outcomes which may take moral precedence over other functions of society.:282 For example, it could be argued that a doctor may lie to a patient about the severity of his or her condition if there is reason to believe that telling the patient would cause so much distress that it would be detrimental to his or her health. This would be a disrespect of the patient's autonomy, as it denies the patient information that could have a great impact on his or her life. This would generally be seen as morally wrong. However, if the end of improving and maintaining health is given a moral priority in society, then it may be justifiable to contravene other moral demands in order to meet this goal.:284 Separatism is based on a relativist conception of morality that there can be different, equally valid, moral codes that apply to different sections of society and differences in codes between societies (see moral relativism). If moral universalism is ascribed to, then this would be inconsistent with the view that professions can have a different moral code, as the universalist holds that there is only one valid moral code for all.:285.
As attending college after high school graduation becomes a standard in the lives of young people, colleges and universities are becoming more business-like in their expectations of the students. Although people have differing opinions about if it is effective, surveys state that it is the overall goal of the university administrators. Setting up a business-like atmosphere helps students get adjusted from a more relaxed nature, like high school, towards what will be expected of them in the business world upon graduating from College.
Codes of conduct
Codes of conduct, such as the St. Xavier Code of Conduct, are becoming more a staple in the academic lives of students. While some of these rules are based solely on academics others are more in depth than in previous years. Such as, detailing the level of respect expected towards staff and gambling.
Not only do codes of conduct apply while attending the schools at home, but also while studying abroad. Schools also implement a code of conduct for international study abroad programs which carry over many of the same rules found in most student handbooks.
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- ^Caroline Whitbeck, "Ethics in Engineering Practice and Research" Cambridge University Press, 1998 page 40
- ^RICS- MAINTAINING PROFESSIONAL AND ETHICAL STANDARDSArchived 2011-12-16 at the Wayback Machine.
- ^Margaret Brazier, ‘’Medicine, Patients and the Law’’, Penguin, 1987 page 147
- ^The Bristol Royal Infirmary inquiry-Professional regulation - nursing: the UKCCArchived 2012-07-29 at Archive.is
- ^Michael Davis, ‘Thinking like an Engineer’ in Philosophy and Public Affairs, 20.2 (1991) page 158
- ^ abcGewirth, Alan (Jan 1986). "Professional Ethics: The Separatist Thesis". Ethics. 96 (2): 282–300. doi:10.1086/292747. JSTOR 2381378.
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- Walker, Evelyn, and Perry Deane Young (1986). A Killing Cure. New York: H. Holt and Co. xiv, 338 p. N.B.: Explanatory subtitle on book's dust cover: One Woman's True Account of Sexual and Drug Abuse and Near Death at the Hands of Her Psychiatrist. Without ISBN
Professional values and ethics
Values and ethics
Values refer to the rules which an individual uses in order to make decisions which determine whether an action is right or wrong. Ethics refers to a formal codified behavior which a particular group of people upholds (Alavudeen, 2008). As a result, each professional group has specified values which it follows. For example, there are medical ethics which are followed by the medical practitioners in order to guide them towards professional practices. Similarly, other fields such military has their professional ethics in which they uphold the values of loyalty, selfless service as well as dedication when they are undertaking their duties. Ethics go hand-in hand with professionalism, thus incase one is described as unethical such an individual is ultimately described as being unprofessional.
Ethics are primarily used in a working environment in order to promote professionalism. In the workplace, both the employees as well as the employers should lay emphasis on ethical value such as values as respect, honesty as well as trust. It is worth noting that, when the management does not uphold ethical practices, the business venture is bound to fail. When a workplace promotes ethics, then a remarkable sense of self worth as well as trust is enhanced ultimately good performance is reported (Kimmel, 2008). Professional ethics enhance a form of professionalism in the workplace. It is through upholding professional ethics and values that integrity in workplace is enhanced. Professional values and ethics act as guiding parameters in career practicing. Whenever an individual joins a particular profession, a formal induction is undertaken so as to enable the person familiarize with these guiding principles. Nonetheless, upholding the professional ethics requires individual effort and commitment through positive interactions.
Sources of professional ethics and values
First, ethics and values are set aside by the professional or governing body. Some of the values are copied from co-workers who are influential and they have been in the profession for a long duration. Professional governing bodies establishes a set of ethical values that every affiliate member ought to adhere to. The ethics advanced by such bodies clarify various procedures that any professional member may employ when making any ethical decision while still practicing or inline of duty. Professional bodies institute codes of conduct as a deliberate move in governing as well as controlling group member behavior as an attempt to safeguard ethical values of the profession (Smith &Churchill, 2000). Any misconduct may risk the concerned member for any penalty or even dismissal from practicing under the accredited body. Secondly, the business culture, internal control or even management's practices advances codes of ethics in the workplace. For example, in order to offer clear ethical standards in the workplace, any organization ought to stipulate guiding values to all employees in order to create ethical culture in their practices. Finally, basic moral values are nurtured through the normal upbringing of an individual.
Professional ethics and career success
In order to be successful in a profession, it is paramount that the employees uphold the defined professional ethics as they undertake their tasks. A well known fact exists, that when a professional makes the right choices and ethics in a career and follows them consistently, then career success will no doubt prevail (Koehn, 1994). Whenever a person consistently follows the defined professional standards set in guiding normal practices under the profession, then professionalism culture is created. The value attached to observing professionalism standards in the workplace is remarkable. For example, following professional ethics and values to the latter may not necessarily guarantee an individual job security alone, but also earn position respect as well as recognition which in itself is fulfilling. Workers who observe professional ethics rank higher in the organization, thus opening avenues for career satisfaction and success.
Upholding professional ethics and values has several benefits. For example, doctors have professional ethics which they uphold and which enable them to display an element of responsibility. Doctors are expected to use all manner of knowledge and expertise within their reach in order to offer professional service to patients (Alavudeen, 2008). Similarly, Doctors are expected to observe high levels of professional competence in order to demonstrate integrity in their work. I addition, professional ethics impact medical career in that no individual required to provide medical services outside their professional training fields. Added responsibility is advanced to people who are professionals, such that when a person upholds particular values and ethics expected in their profession, they may be entrusted with more responsibilities that goes along with higher package. Finally, professional ethics assist in building positive public image on any career or add value to professionals associated with such careers to either prospectus employers or even to the public. For instance, professional values spelt out by any lawyers body has made the career appear prestigious and worth emulating.
Alavudeen , A. (2008). Professional Ethics and human values. New Delhi: India, Firewall Media Publishers.
Kimmel, A. (1988). Ethics and values in applied social research. London, UK: Sage Publishers.
Koehn, D. (1994). The Ground of Professional ethics. New York, U.S.A: Routledge Publishers.
Smith, H & Churchill, L. (2000). Professional ethics and primary care medicine: beyond dilemmas and decorum. North Carolina, U.S.A: Duke University Press.
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