Autonomy, Accountability, and Professional Practice: Contemporary Issues and Challenges

By Whiteford, Gail | New Zealand Journal of Occupational Therapy, March 2007 | Go to article overview

Autonomy, Accountability, and Professional Practice: Contemporary Issues and Challenges


Whiteford, Gail, New Zealand Journal of Occupational Therapy


Abstract

Contemporary society holds numerous challenges to professionals. These include coping with the information explosion, responding to heightened consumer awareness and demands on services, and in meeting ever increasing regimes of compliance within an era of mangerialism and accountability. This article explores these issues and posits some responses for professionals including developing robust communities of practice to enhance context specific knowledge generation and in enhancing the political profile and representation of professional groups within decision making fora.

Key words

Postmodernism, autonomy, regimes of compliance, communities of practice, politicisation

Whiteford, G. (2007). Autonomy, accountability, and professional practice: Contemporary issues and challenges. New Zealand Journal of Occupational Therapy, 54(1), 11-14

**********

My objectives in this article are three fold: First to consider the broad terrain of professionalism both statistically and conceptually, then to consider some of the challenges to professionalism paying particular attention to knowledge development, competency and accountability. Finally I will posit some suggestions or strategies for the future, including the politicization of our professional agendas.

Professions in New Zealand: Scanning the terrain

The 2001 Census (Statistics New Zealand, 2006) revealed that there were 217, 000 professionals in New Zealand and, according to the Standard Classification of Occupations, these professionals fall into 70 broad categories. As a more specific breakdown in numbers, the Census identified that there were 60,000 teachers and 14,000 university and vocational education teachers.

As for health professionals, there were 31,000 nurses and 12,000 other health professionals and 9,000 medical practitioners who include anaesthetists, surgeons and specialists. The Census also identified 9,000 barristers and solicitors and other legal professionals as well as 18,500 accountants--of interest one of the fastest growing professions which may tell you something about the times in which we live and work. With respect to regulation, there are currently 19 Registration Authorities, and just to focus in on one area, in 2005 there was a total of 1124 complaints made to the Health and Disability Services Commissioner with most related to deficiencies in assessment and treatment, lack of care coordination, poor communication and inadequate record keeping. So, whilst this data may give us some indication of the quantum of professionals currently in the country (or at least those we have not lost to better paid overseas destinations), who is a 'professional' and what characterises a profession?

What does it mean to be a professional?

In 1906 George Bernard Shaw suggested that professionalism as a concept is, in fact, a form of protectionism, stating that "all professions are conspiracies against the laity" (Catto, 2005, p. 315) which, being a fairly disparaging view of professionals, signals a sense of differentiation at best, and elitism at worst. But if professionals are distinct in their own right, what makes them so? Definitions abound on what constitutes professionalism from Bosser et al's (1999) statement that a "profession is autonomous, self-directing and embodies trustworthiness through adherence to ethics and knowledgeable skill" (p.117) to a more recent and perhaps fluid version that "professional practice is about doing, knowing, being and becoming" which is characterised as being "people centred, purposeful, based on informed action, individual, located in a specific context" (Ewing & Smith, 2001, p. 16). Phillips more recently presents a definition more focussed on the attributes and actions of the individual practitioner in suggesting that "the essence of professionalism is to be able to call upon the honour, probity and principled judgement of the practitioner" (Catto, 2005, p. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Autonomy, Accountability, and Professional Practice: Contemporary Issues and Challenges
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.