Darius Y. Wilson, EdD, MAT, MT(ASCP), MLS Program Chair, Baptist College of Health Sciences

As an educator, it is my responsibility to teach and, more importantly, model professionalism to medical laboratory science students and even colleagues. Students have participated in various clinical rotations and have given reports of unprofessional behavior in the workplace. Rather than spend time discussing the reported behavior, I focus on the type of behavior that should be presented.

One would think that in 2018, the topic of professionalism would be obsolete; however, it remains a timeless classic. The implementation requires continuous improvement. One must always think of one’s presentation to another, whether in the workplace or in public. Competency in professionalism tends to involve non-cognitive skills, including communication (language, empathy, integrity, compassion), collaborator (responsibility, respect, duty), and continuous improvement (recognition of limitations, motivation to improve). One should establish a personal barometer to gauge the necessity for improvement.

Per David Tipton (2017), Professionalism is a set or values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. The term includes a commitment to the highest standards of excellence in practice; a commitment to the interest of patients; and a commitment to the needs of the community. Educators, lab supervisors, and lab directors should be involved in teaching professionalism by setting expectations, performing assessments, rewarding appropriate behaviors, remediating and/or preventing inappropriate behaviors, and implementing a cultural change.

Utilizing several resources, below are some major characteristics of a quality healthcare professional:

  • Dependable
  • Cooperative
  • Committed
  • Compassionate
  • Courteous
  • Respectful 
  • Competent
  • Integrity
  • Technical skills
  • Personal growth
  • Organized
  • Flexible
  • Neat and clean appearance
  • Good communication skills (verbal and nonverbal)
  • Good telephone skills

Some of the characteristics listed above are soft skills, which are difficult to evaluate. However, soft skills are very important for employment and life in general. Those are the interpersonal skills, i.e. how well one gets along with others. For example, an employer shared with me that it is very difficult to teach customer service skills, but much easier to teach one how to troubleshoot if they have the basic competency. The competency in an area is the knowledge and skill most often learned in a classroom or clinical setting. These are the hard skills, which are quantifiable attributes. 

It is the responsibility of each individual to evaluate his/her level of soft and hard skills. As an educator, it is my responsibility to assist the student in evaluating the soft skills and provide the educational components to achieve the hard skills in medical laboratory science. I would be remiss if either is ignored. 

In addition, it is the role of the educator to promote involvement in a professional organization. This is also a component of professionalism. I share with students my involvement and promote attendance at local meetings. As the title states, professionalism requires continuous improvement. Although I have been an educator for many years, I continuously strive to improve so I can assist others to meet their goals. 


  1. Personal and Professional Growth for Health Care Professionals, David Tipton, 2017
  2. The Phlebotomy Textbook, Susan King Strasinger & Marjorie Schuab DiLorenzo, 2011
  3. Professionalism in Healthcare, Sherry Makely, 2013