The ASHA Code of Ethics states:
- “Individuals shall provide all services competently. Individuals shall use every resource, including referral when appropriate, to ensure that high-quality service is provided.”
- “Individuals shall honor their responsibility to achieve and maintain the highest level of professional competence and performance.”
- “Individuals shall engage in only those aspects of the professions that are within their scope of their professional practice and competence, considering their level of education, training, and experience.”
- “Individuals shall engage in lifelong learning to maintain and enhance professional competence and performance.”
APTA Code of Ethics states:
AOTA Code of Ethics states:
Occupational therapy personnel shall
While we are looking at the ethical dilemmas in the prevailing model of healthcare and how it impacts our patients, we should also take some time to look at our clinical skill. We are bound by our code of ethics (and likely your state licensure) to continually improve clinical skill and practice only in areas where we are competent. Improving our clinical skill and competence is great way improve elder care.
Social media is good, but not great
Social media is a good thing, but I am concerned that it may be the easy way to solve some of our clinical dilemmas. It is almost too easy to hop on social media and ask a clinical question. But are you getting a clinical answer? Sometimes yes. Other times you are getting people’s experiences and opinions.
Experience is really important. In fact, when we look at great therapy we are considering two types of experience – patient and clinician – along with evidence based practice. What’s missing on social media is other people don’t know you (and your skills) and your patient (and their specific presentation).
So we really need to make sure that we are becoming better clinicians. We need to feel competent and confident in our services. Our patients deserve the best.
What if you aren’t competent?
No sweat. I’m not competent to treat every SLP patient either. If you are referred a new patient that you aren’t competent to treat, you can do a few things:
- Refer them to another therapist that is competent in that specific area.
- Contact a therapist (or clinical specialist) in your region (employed by the same company) and negotiate to have that person coach you through the treatment. This is someone you can share those HIPAA protected details (unlike social media).
- Seek education via webinars, online courses, textbooks, journal articles, etc. This is especially important if you see a specific condition, etc. often.
There are some things that I am not competent in treating. Voice is a big one. I have always been uncomfortable with my own voice. My voice class in graduate school was rushed. And I’ve only had a handful of voice patients. Honestly, I am not good at voice therapy.
Thankfully, I’ve got an awesome colleague, who is also a vocalogist, who loves voice. She sings, performs, and has done an impressive amount of continuing education to hone her craft as a singer and therapist. My voice patients go to her, always! They get better treatment from her. She refers to me for my own specialties. She wrote a guest post for us to help us understand vocal changes with aging.
There should not be any shame in not being an expert in all areas of our field or asking for help. As therapists our scopes of practice are diverse. Due to medical advances, our patients are becoming more complex.
How to improve your skill
This month, Gray Matter Therapy will focus blog posts on this very question. We will look at why CEUs are so expensive, recommendations for accruing CEUs as a new clinician (this comes up over and over on forums), assessing education opportunities for usefulness, and more.
In addition, newsletter subscribers will receive a tracking sheet I use to track professional education. It doubles as a record for ASHA and state intervals and an expense report for tax deduction purposes.
American Physical Therapy Association. (No date). Code of Ethics for the Physical Therapist. Available from www.apta.org/policies.
American Occupational Therapy Association. (2010). Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics and Ethics Standards. Available from www.aota.org/About-Occupational-Therapy/Ethics.aspx
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2010r). Code of Ethics[Ethics]. Available from www.asha.org/policy.
Latest posts by Rachel Wynn (see all)
- Person-Centered Care Sessions | ASHA Convention 2015 - October 13, 2015
- Professional Development Sessions | ASHA Convention 2015 - October 6, 2015
- I’m Nervous About Starting My CFY in a SNF | Reader Question - September 29, 2015