The purpose of this document is to provide occupational therapy and physical therapy students within the School of Rehabilitation Therapy at Queen’s University with specific direction concerning
professional behaviour. Responsibilities of the student, as outlined in this document, are a part of the professional requirements of the Occupational and Physical Therapy Programs and evaluation of professional behaviour is an ongoing and integral part of the curriculum. Consequently, evaluation of professional behaviour can affect both grading and a student’s status within the program.
Professionalism is reflected in each student’s conduct and is essential for the development of professionalism, collegiality, collaboration, and the desire to learn.
A profession is defined as follows: “An occupation whose core element is work based upon the mastery of a complex body of knowledge and skills. It is a vocation in which knowledge of some department of science or learning or the practice of an art founded upon it is used in the service of others. Its members are governed by codes of ethics and profess a commitment to competence, integrity and morality, altruism, and the promotion of the public good within their domain. These commitments form the basis of a social contract between a profession and society, which in return grants the profession a monopoly over the use of its knowledge base, the right to considerable autonomy in practice and the privilege of self‐regulation. Professions and their members are accountable to those served and to society.” (Cruess, Johnston and Cruess, 2004)
Queen’s University’s School of Rehabilitation Therapy has an obligation to patients/clients, students, the healthcare community and society at large to educate students on their professional obligations. In fulfilling this mandate, procedures must be in place to recognize exemplary examples of student professional behaviour. Similarly, when students fall short of professional behaviour expectations, the School must make them aware of improper conduct and undertake necessary remediation in order to ensure that negative patterns of behaviour are replaced by positive ones.
It is critical that occupational therapy and physical therapy students understand that professional behaviour is an expectation in both academic and clinical settings. This means that behaviour associated with on‐campus courses and related activities is just as important as behaviour during clinical/fieldwork placement and will be treated as such by the School of Rehabilitation Therapy.
In addition to professional behaviour, students are also expected to behave with academic integrity and in accordance with the Queen’s University Code of Conduct. Other university policies have set out those expectations and the possible sanctions for violations. This Professional Behaviour Policy is intended to complement those policies.
1. To demonstrate the priority placed by the School on professional behaviour;
2. To identify lapses in professional behaviour as early as possible and provide appropriate remediation;
3. To identify exemplary professional behaviour so that it may be a) recognized, and b) used as a potential vehicle for peer‐modeling;
4. To provide students, faculty and staff with a clear articulation of expectations vis à vis student professional behaviour;
5. To provide the School with clearly articulated authority to act when dealing with lapses in professional behaviour;
6. To identify procedures for managing student professional behaviour issues;
7. To provide a longitudinal approach (i.e., not merely course‐by‐course or year‐by‐year) to monitoring students’ behaviour.
This policy applies to all academic interactions and activities including:
1. All classroom‐based milieu (e.g., learning teams, laboratory, Clinical Education Center, lecture hall, exam hall, etc.);
2. All clinical settings that are part of the learning program (e.g., hospitals, clinics, community health centres, ambulatory settings, community development locales, etc.);
3. Other milieu that are not part of the formal learning program but contribute to the learning process. Examples include: student‐groups/meetings, clubs and governance structures; interactions with University administrators and other members of the campus community; University‐supported events.
1. Treat all classmates, faculty, staff, patients/clients, and health care team members with respect and consideration, without regard to gender, age, race, religion, ethnicity, class or sexual orientation;
2. Adhere to the highest standard of integrity and honesty in all professional relationships; 3. Protect confidentiality of patients/clients and any others for whom confidential information is
4. Behave appropriately inclass, lab, and during fieldwork/clinical placements such that there is no interference with others’ ability to learn or the instructor’s/preceptor’s ability to teach;
5. Dress appropriately, consistent with that of a professional, in all clinical settings, including appropriate identification during all anticipated volunteer/patient contact;
6. Adhere to professional standards of grooming and hygiene;
7. Endeavour to maintain a positive attitude toward all responsibilities;
8. Fulfill responsibilities assigned in class, by learning teams or in clinical/fieldwork settings; 9. Appropriately prepare for class, and fieldwork/clinical placements to optimize learning; 10. Consult with those more knowledgeable when necessary;
11. Follow all published instructions regarding assignments, examinations and special accommodations, and seek clarification when ambiguities are present;
12. Show respect in all oral, written, and electronic communications (e.g., e‐mail, social networking sites, blogs, Facebook, instant messaging);
13. Remain calm, courteous, and mature in the face of adversity and/or conflict; 14. Develop personal strategies to cope with adversity/conflict;
15. Avoid inappropriate behaviour (e.g., swearing, gossiping, and negatively criticizing others); 16. Be accountable for their actions;
17. Seek feedback and advice from mentors; 18. Maintain the highest standard of safety;
19. Be punctual for classes and fieldwork/clinical placements, and in responding to telephone or electronic messages from faculty, staff and preceptors;
20. Communicate title and credentials accurately;
21. Recognize and respond appropriately to others’ unprofessional behaviours;
22. Notify appropriate personnel if ill, or otherwise unable to perform clinical or academic duties; 23. Follow appropriate levels of reporting when addressing an issue (e.g., normally communicate
concerns to course co‐ordinator/instructor as the first step).
The goal is to reward the best professional behavior, enhance professionalism in all students, identify the few students who show deficiencies in professional behaviour, and dismiss the rare student who cannot practice professionally. This will be achieved by:
1. Ensuring all students are familiar with the Professional Behaviour Policy and require them to adhere to its principles.
2. Ensuring all students are aware that exemplary behaviour will be recognized and that lapses, depending on the level of severity, will be met with varying degrees of sanction.
3. Ensuring all staff, faculty, and preceptors, working with students are familiar with the objectives of the Professional Behaviour Policy and directing them to note any behaviour that they view as either exemplary or contrary to its principles.
4. Documenting all professionalism incidents and determining appropriate consequences.
Examples of exemplary professional behaviour will be defined as:
Situations in which a student exhibits an exceptional commitment to the principles of professionalism that is recognized by peers, volunteers/mentors, clients, instructors/preceptors, healthcare team members, or members of the wider University community.
a) Student interacts with a client who is dissatisfied with their care in a respectful manner that diffuses the situation;
b) Student volunteers for a local organization that demonstrates the values of the occupational therapy or physical therapy profession;
c) Student demonstrates consistent interest in professional development that extends beyond the classroom;
d) Student is recognized as demonstrating exceptional contributions to their learning team or class; e) Student alerts instructor to a calculation error on an exam or assignment that has incorrectly
inflated their score.
Responses to exemplary behaviour:
a) The student’s conduct may be recorded in their file;
b) The student may be congratulated by a faculty member or supervisor; c) The student may be nominated for an award.
Lapses in professional behaviour are viewed first and foremost as an opportunity for education and remediation. The intent is to provide opportunities for students to become conscious of behaviours that do not meet professional standards and learn how to alter their behaviour accordingly. Whenever possible, consequences should reflect this belief.
5.2.1 Consequences will vary in severity based on the following factors:a) Classification of the severity of the lapse
b) Whether the student has had previous lapses c) The level of responsibility shown by the student d) Extenuating circumstances
5.2.2 Consequences may include, though not be limited to, one or more of the following:a) Research and reflection resulting in a written submission
b) Issuance of apology c) Counselling
d) Mandated meetings with a mentor e) Academic penalty
f) Repetition of a course, placement/fieldwork
g) Suspension or expulsion from the School of Rehabilitation Therapy at Queen’s University
5.2.3 Minor, major and critical lapses will be defined and responded to as follows:
22.214.171.124 Minor lapses – These are errors that have minimal consequences. Often there is no awareness of the unprofessional act, or the student realizes the error after the fact. There may be mitigating
a) Student does not meet deadline for paper due to family illness but fails to notify anyone; b) Student is overheard voicing frustration in a non‐constructive manner about a peer, client or
c) Student uses his or her computer for purposes other than learning in the classroom environment;
d) Student has a habit of being late for class and disrupting the classroom environment. Consequences for minor lapses in professionalism:
a) The incident may be resolved with a discussion between the appropriate faculty member or supervisor and the student;
b) The student’s conduct may be recorded in his/her file;
c) The student may lose privileges related to his/her conduct violation, such as choice of fieldwork placement, computer use in class, or volunteer opportunities.
126.96.36.199 Major lapses – Major lapses are errors that have potentially serious consequences. Often the student has awareness of the unprofessional act. Usually there are no mitigating circumstances. Examples:
a) Student fails to return phone calls and/or emails from an instructor within the requested time frame, and no extenuating circumstances are identified;
b) Student posts volunteer/client/peer/faculty information that does not belong in the public domain on a social networking website (note: may also be considered a critical lapse dependent on severity and intent);
c) Student has a pattern of unexcused absences in academic or clinical courses which jeopardize his/her competence in the course material(s);
d) Inappropriate behaviour in class in the presence of guest speakers or invited guests;
e) Student’s disruptive behaviour in the classroom environment has negative consequences for others’ learning.
Consequences for major lapses in professionalism:
a) The student’s conduct is documented in his/her file;
b) The student may be required to complete remedial course work;
c) The student may be required to apologize for his/her actions to the parties involved; d) The student may be suspended or expelled from the professional program.
188.8.131.52 Critical Lapses – Critical lapses have direct harmful consequences or are clear breaches of well recognized standards. They are serious errors that will require immediate action by a faculty member, preceptor, or Chair of the Program. They are a clear violation of the professional code of conduct. Examples:
a) Student being dishonest either by lying or misrepresenting himself/herself;
b) Student is verbally abusive to a volunteer/mentor, client, peer, faculty member or preceptor; c) Student is sexually inappropriate with a client, other member of the health care team, or their
d) Student violates the confidentiality of a client, volunteer/mentor or peer. Consequences for critical lapses in professionalism:
a) The student’s conduct is documented in his/her file;
b) The student’s conduct may be addressed through the Queen’s Academic Integrity policy; c) The student may be required to apologize for his/her actions to the parties involved; d) The student may be required to repeat a fieldwork placement;
e) The student may be expelled from the professional program.
1) Lapses in professional behaviour are identified by course co‐ordinators, instructors, clinical preceptors or staff.
2) A summary of the lapse is communicated to the appropriate Program Chair in writing including steps taken to address the issue; the Program Chair will inform the Director in cases of perceived major or critical lapses.
3) The student is advised that the incident has been noted and will be given a chance to respond. 4) The incident is reviewed by the Program Chair. (Note: In cases where the lapse is deemed to be
potentially classified as critical, an extraordinary meeting of the Progress and Awards Committee may be called in order to have the case reviewed)
5) The incident is classified as minor, major or critical by the Student Progress and Awards Committee.
6) The Progress and Awards Committee determines the appropriate consequences and remediation plan.
7) The student is notified in writing of the decision of the Progress and Awards Committee. 8) The student may appeal the decision of the Progress and Awards Committee to the Director of
the School of Rehabilitation Therapy. If so, their intent to do so should be filed in writing within 5 business days of receiving the decision. An Appeal Committee hearing will be scheduled to take place within 10 business days of receiving notice. Upon hearing an appeal the School’s Appeals Committee may decide to change the classification of the lapse and/or the nature of the consequences and remediation plan.
Cruess SR, Johnston S, Cruess RL. (2004). "Profession": a working definition for medical educators. Teach Learn Med.Winter. 16(1):74‐6.