GDC publishes research into the meaning of professionalism

06 August, 2020 / infocus
 Will Peakin  

Findings from independent research, designed to inform a better shared understanding of professionalism, have been published today by the General Dental Council (GDC).

It marks a “major milestone in the regulator’s programme to develop new ‘principles of professionalism’, which will also see extensive engagement with stakeholders,” the GDC said in a statement

Key findings include:

  • Professionalism is a “multifaceted and context-dependent concept, and therefore, not easily defined for every circumstance or individual”.
  • The concept is viewed differently by members of the public and dental professionals in some instances. For example, views about professionalism in personal time, experience during the appointment, and whether the exchange of money for dental care plays a role. Dental professionals also typically framed professionalism in negative terms (i.e. what not to do).
  • These differences “have important implications for the relationship between patients and professionals – and are likely to continue because professionals form their understanding of professionalism largely through observation”.
  • Good communication and involving patients in decision-making is a “key element of professionalism and an essential foundation of trust”.

Stefan Czerniawski, Executive Director, Strategy, at the GDC, said “Professionalism is important both to patients and to dental professionals themselves – but they don’t always mean the same thing by it.

“This new research makes an important contribution to the shared understanding of what it means to be a professional and to the development of principles of professionalism.

It is also a crucial part of our increased focus on upstream regulation, which aims to prevent harm from taking place. I look forward to discussing the research findings with patients and professionals as the work continues.”

To read the full report visit

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