Through upbringings and life experiences, one’s values and character traits are built. Values, also known as principles, are what influence our daily choices, whether in the workplace or our personal lives. Halligan (2008) states that a vital component in healthcare is the value set by healthcare practitioners, as they are the “beating heart of the National Health Service (NHS).”
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Personal, Professional and Organizational Values
Though there are various types of values, they all impact our daily decisions in a positive or sometimes unpopular manner. Personal values are those values that represent what we want most for ourselves in life; while professional values are those we take on as healthcare professionals (Posner, 2010). As an occupational therapist (OT), I have taken on the core values known as altruism, equality, freedom, justice, dignity, truth, and prudence (Kanny, 1993). Organizational values are the standards or ethics on which a facility, whether private or public practice, is built on (Posner, 2010).
Values and Their Influence on Decision Making
Values are standards we have learned throughout our life from teachings, whether as children, students, or employees. When making decisions, our values influence our choices because these are part of our character and beliefs. As a healthcare practitioner, my values take over when I decide how much treatment a client needs or if treatment is needed at all. As part of an inter-professional team, we learn from others their values and beliefs that may influence our own if they seem to steer us in a better more ethical direction. As a team, healthcare practitioners will share ideas and views amongst themselves; in turn, these will influence decisions made concerning a client's plan of care.
Learned Values Impact on Ethical Decision Making
Lessons begin as children and values are learned as early as you can remember. Being able to identify what is right or wrong is something we first pick up from our parents and their teachings, followed by our teachers and professors’ influence during our schooling years. Through talks or consequences as a result of poor behavior or decision-making, we learn what is acceptable and expected of us, in turn, building our values and molding our characters.
When making ethical decisions in our personal life or the workplace, our values play a vital role; understanding that the client’s needs come before anything else will prove to impact one’s decisions positively. These learnings have come from years of teachings provided by our educators and inter-professional team members. As professionals, we may also learn negative behaviors that may impact our decisions in our respective fields. Deciding to over-recommend, or continue treatment even when it is not necessary may be something influenced by a colleague in need or a supervisor’s encouragement.
Values and Our True Colors
As a healthcare practitioner, I value individuals that are respectful and hold accountability for their actions, as well as those with integrity. I also find professional values to be essential, and I prefer when associations make their professional values clear to avoid confusion and misunderstandings. Upholding important values is reflected in one’s behaviors through positive decision-making, while these positive behaviors are what make up one’s character traits. My character traits include leadership skills, loyalty, and reliability, as well as being extremely goal oriented. I consider myself to be work driven and assertive, as well as holding high standards for my professional and personal life. These character traits are a result of my upbringings and the values I have learned throughout my childhood, school years, and professional career.
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Your Character’s Influence on Ethical Decision Making
As the lead OT and supervisor of front desk operations for an inter-professional team, I have demonstrated to my employer and peers that I am loyal and reliable. These character traits have earned me greater responsibility throughout the years, in turn resulting in import decision-making. Making firm ethical decisions with only the client’s best interest at hand is essential as the lead OT and not allowing the facilities census or therapist’s caseload influence these decisions is imperative to running a reputable business.
As a healthcare practitioner, it is essential to make ethical decisions about patient care and allowing these good moral values to translate into your personal life. Positive values and important character traits are vital in healthcare, especially during testing times, such as low facility census. Trying times are what test your moral compass, and it is crucial to passing these tests to avoid tainting one’s character traits or lowering your values.
- Halligan, A. (2008). The Importance of Values in Healthcare. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine,101(10), 480-481. doi:10.1258/jrsm.08k019
- Kanny, E. (1993). Core Values and Attitudes of Occupational Therapy Practice. American Journal of Occupational Therapy,47(12), 1085-1086. doi:10.5014/ajot.47.12.1085
- Posner, B. (2010). Another Look at the Impact of Personal and Organizational Values Congruency. Journal of Business Ethics, 97(4), 535–541. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-010-0530-1
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