Are You a Professional?

"Being a professional is doing the things you love to do,
on the days you don't feel like doing them."

Julius Irving

The term professionalism is thrown around in the literature and is frequently linked with involvement in your professional associations and attending educational offerings. But what is professionalism? What are tips to acquire it? 

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines professionalism as "the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person." and it defines a profession as "a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation."

The implication of the definitions is that professionalism involves divergent attributes which together identify and define a professional. Professionalism is not only found in the medical world but other disciplines as well. Below are ten tips to refine your professionalism from the business world (Norton, 2010).

1: Patients first

Your patient is your customer. Understanding and satisfying your patient’s needs are key. Do what is necessary to meet those needs. Professionals identify and satisfy their customer's needs.

2: Identify your expertise

The definition of professional previously implies expertise. You should strive to become an expert in your area by keeping your skills and knowledge current. Annual convention, Imaging Review courses, Journal of Radiology Nursing or Arin Webinars are methods to assist with this goal. Professionals know their craft.

3: Go above and beyond

Professionals are expected to manage their time and work habits. In your practice, you may be asked work weekends and holidays or complete an important project in a short time frame. Professionals go the extra step when possible.

4: Do what you say and say what do

The band, “The Fix” in One Thing Leads to Another talked about this concept. Professionals deliver on promises. Ask yourself before you speak, can you really deliver what you are about to say? If you can't, it will eventually be revealed, and hard-earned trust lost.

5: Communication is everything

Communication is everything and miscommunication is one of the most mentioned reasons for errors in patient care. Whether verbal or written, professionals communicate clearly, concisely, thoroughly, and accurately.  Effective communication is a professional’s responsibility.

6: Raise the bar

Professionals adhere to high values and principles. In this age of growing incivility, appreciate and support those you work with. Practice good manners and proper etiquette. Maintain high ethical and moral standards in your dealings. Many hospitals and physician offices have operating manuals outlining workplace policies. Make sure you are familiar with yours.

7: Praise your peers

Respect and acknowledge the talents of your peers. Professionals are humble and generous in their praise of others. Praise is easy and costs little.

8: Share your knowledge

Professionals help their peers. As the saying goes, “There is no “I” in team.” Great patient care is a team activity. It is in your patient’s best interest for all to share their knowledge with associates. If you are a hoarder of information and feel your information guarantees you job security, you are mistaken. The reality in today’s workplace is that nobody is irreplaceable.

9: Thank You

Professionals thank others in a meaningful way for the recipient. There are many small inexpensive ways to say thank-you to your colleagues.

10: Smile

Professionals smile and are pleasant even during a bad day. It shows caring about how your attitude affects those you interact with. If you need to vent, most managers would rather you talk to them to unload it rather than in front of patients or other colleagues. "Sharing the misery" in front of patients and other colleagues makes a toxic environment and is not the mark of a professional.


Working with professionals creates an enjoyable work environment.  I have had the opportunity in my career to work with model colleagues on an extended night shift rotation. It was the best experience I ever had. I have also encountered peers who liked to be treated as professionals without having to do the work and act like one.

If you read the tips and felt you could improve in in some areas, don't feel bad.   Recognize opportunities for improvement you have and begin working on your professional image. ARIN has opportunities to help you. Conference is one avenue that can be used to work on your image. The opportunity to attend educational offerings and network with other professionals. I hope to see you in Austin.



Norton, A. (July 27, 2010). 10 things that define a true professional. Retrieved

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