Development and Integration of Professional Core Values Among Practicing Clinicians

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Abstract

Background

The physical therapy profession has adopted professional core values, which define expected values for its members, and developed a self-assessment tool with sample behaviors for each of the 7 core values. However, evidence related to the integration of these core values into practice is limited.

Objectives

The aims of this study were: (1) to gain insight into physical therapists' development of professional core values and (2) to gain insight into participants' integration of professional core values into clinical practice.

Design

A qualitative design permitted in-depth exploration of the development and integration of the American Physical Therapy Association's professional core values into physical therapist practice.

Methods

Twenty practicing physical therapists were purposefully selected to explore the role of varied professional, postprofessional, and continuing education experiences related to exposure to professional values. The Core Values Self-Assessment and résumé sort served as prompts for reflection via semistructured interviews.

Results

Three themes were identified: (1) personal values were the foundation for developing professional values, which were further shaped by academic and clinical experiences, (2) core values were integrated into practice independent of practice setting and varied career paths, and (3) participants described the following professional core values as well integrated into their practice: integrity, compassion/caring, and accountability. Social responsibility was an area consistently identified as not being integrated into their practice.

Limitations

The Core Values Self-Assessment tool is a consensus-based document developed through a Delphi process. Future studies to establish reliability and construct validity of the tool may be warranted.

Conclusions

Gaining an in-depth understanding of how practicing clinicians incorporate professional core values into clinical practice may shed light on the relationship between core values mastery and its impact on patient care. Findings may help shape educators' decisions for professional (entry-level), postprofessional, and continuing education.

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