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Professional and academic integrity in university studies

Professionalism is established on the actions of “values, attitudes, and behaviours” (Tipton, 2014). These actions are the foundations upon which I want to build my studies and my future practice as a pharmacist.

Those who have been working in this field for decades are the ones who will guide professionals-to-be along their pathway of studies. Multiple theories have been created to help professionals-to-be like myself to better understand what professionalism is in relation to this particular field. Among such theories, the ones that resonates the most with me is the one created by David Tipton. David Tipton (2014) uses religion as an analogy to describe the characteristics of professionalism. Tipton appeals to the hierarchy of religion to give its reader a clear understanding on the code of conduct of professionalism.

Another theory resonating well with me is based on the technique of visualisation. Such technique is called the bicycle wheel and consists of the fundamental values of professionalism. These values first start at the centre of the wheel, branching out firstly into attitudes and then into behaviours. The bicycle wheel helps me understand in a logical manner how to behave myself as a pharmacist-in-training and how to best put to practical use my academic interests

The umbrella concept aids me in the process of becoming a professional pharmacist. The purpose of the umbrella concept is to symbolise the “overall goal of [the] pharmacy curriculum” (Hammer, Berger, Beardsley, Easton, 2003). The pole of the umbrella represents students, and the “hinged ribs radiating from the central pole” (Hammer, Berger, Beardsley, Easton, 2003), displays characteristics such as “empathy, communication…” (Hammer, Berger, Beardsley, Easton, 2003) as the central aspects that teaches pharmacists-in-training such as myself how to conduct ourselves appropriately in public. As a student and a pharmacist-in-training, I hope that the umbrella concept would solidify everything that I have learnt thus far about the importance of professionalism.

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Patient care requires professionalism as a pharmacist’s main priority is to make sure that patients are treated with the absolute best care. As a person who has always been interested in the health field, I turned towards pharmacy as I saw it as a great opportunity to be there for others. Having family members who depend on health professions to help them go about their daily lives was an inspiration to help them and others in the future.

Academic integrity is defined as a “moral code of academia” (Elliot, 2013) which as a pharmacist-in-training must adhere to producing and conveying correct “information in an ethical, honest and responsible manner”(Elliot, 2013)The overall value of academic integrity is to be true to oneself and to use research and work done by other professionals in a respectable manner. As a pharmacist-in-training, it is highly important to avoid any situation to do plagiarism, collusion and cheating. Being unethical during university challenges the academic integrity of students. Such actions of misconduct would “compromise educators’ ability to accurately assess students” (Wong, Lim, Quinlan, 2016).

The values of professionalism are summarised into three main ideas. The first describing professionalism as a way of practicing its methods to its highest ability. The second is to fulfil the role of a pharmacist by ensuring the needs of patients first and the third value of professionalism is for a pharmacist to play a vital role of supporting the community at all times. Both professionalism and academic integrity need to be well-understood as a pharmacist-in-training to help one succeed with their university studies and career as pharmacist’s.

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