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Posted on: 25 Apr 2018

Professionalism Conference

First national conference on professionalism in healthcare took place at RCSI on the 12th April 2018

Greater emphasis on professionalism in practice essential to advance patient safety and prevent doctor burnout


A major conference at RCSI heard from national and international speakers on the link between professionalism in healthcare and patient and clinician safety. This inaugural conference on healthcare professionalism in Ireland aims to highlight the importance of professionalism in improving patient outcomes and experience, and in promoting clinician well-being.

More than 450 healthcare professionals  attended the conference. They heard from a unique group of experts providing international perspectives and sharing solutions. The conference was opened  by Dr Philip Crowley, HSE National Director, Quality Improvement, demonstrating the collaboration that is taking place between educators and health service providers to increase awareness of the importance of professionalism in healthcare.

Speaking ahead of the conference, Professor Dubhfeasa Slattery, Chair of Medical Professionalism at RCSI and BSHS said, “Clinicians are working in challenging and ever changing times but the evidence shows that practicing professionalism saves lives and prevents clinician burnout. It improves the patient experience, staff morale and staff retention.”

“Professionalism is about trust between the clinician, their patients, public and colleagues. It ensures that healthcare professionals work collaboratively in teams, strive for excellence, deliver evidence based, ethical and culturally sensitive care in a compassionate, honest and selfless way”, said Professor Slattery.

Professor Slattery said that research studies show that better team work communication in hospitals, a component of professionalism, leads to better patient outcomes from acute heart attack compared to a hospital with poor team communication.  Similarly, less complications and deaths have been identified in surgical patients where the clinicians worked well as a team. 

 “Professionalism must be an intrinsic part of the DNA of healthcare professionals from their first day in medical school until they retire from practice. That is why we have introduced professionalism as a core, horizontal theme throughout the undergraduate curriculum”.

Addressing the complex problem of burnout among healthcare professionals, Professor Slattery said, “We now have a better understanding of the importance of clinician self-care and preventing burnout at a human level, but also in terms of a sustainable health system and patient safety. As clinicians, we have a duty to our patients to ensure we care for ourselves so that we can deliver safe, compassionate and professional care to our patients. Self-care is one of the skills we aim to equip our students with, so they have the resilience and insight to manage their well-being in a challenging work environment.”

RCSI is a leader nationally in professionalism, incorporating it as a key theme throughout the undergraduate curriculum and providing post graduate training options for multi-disciplinary healthcare professionals’ education. The College has also appointed the first Chair and Professor of Medical professionalism and organised this first national conference to highlight its critical importance. In this way, RCSI is building on the work of North American centres of excellence including Harvard Medical School and affiliated Hospitals and the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, USA.

RCSI is ranked among the top 250 (top 2%) of universities worldwide in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (2018) and its research is ranked first in Ireland for citations. It is an international not-for-profit health sciences institution, with its headquarters in Dublin, focused on education and research to drive improvements in human health worldwide. RCSI is a signatory of the Athena SWAN Charter.

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