Our Executive Director, Cidalia Paiva is also North America’s foremost expert in the field of Ethics and Professionalism for RMTs in Canada and the USA. She has written 4 books and over 60 articles in academic and trade magazines and publications. She’s here to share her ethical advice with you in our long-running series, Ask Cid.
When I graduate and begin practicing I plan to use my own personal values to make tough decisions when I have a problem. One of my classmates said that I am wrong and that I can’t use my own personal values. We disagree. Who is right?
You can utilize your personal value system to make ethical decisions in practice, however ethically and professionally speaking this is not appropriate. So in this regard your classmate is right.
When it comes to professional behaviour with respect to our professional roles as regulated healthcare professionals we must make ethical decisions based on our professional value system, not our personal value system.
Our professional value system outlines the central principles and values that guide all regulated heath care professionals i.e. respect for persons, non-maleficence (the requirement to refrain from harming our patients), beneficence (the requirement to actually do good and benefit our patients) and fidelity (the commitment to be loyal stewards of our patients health and well-being). These values are often expressly stated in terms of explicit ethical requirements in our professional Code of Ethics document.
Professional ethics are not a matter of personal opinion or belief. When you become a member of a regulated healthcare profession you implicitly agree to be bound by the professional ethics of the profession you are entering into.
If you find that your personal values conflict significantly with your professional values then you may have to seriously consider whether a career in massage therapy is right for you. Professional ethics are non-negotiable. They are the very terrain we live in and we must embrace these with our full and abiding commitment, integrity and heart.