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The term professional competence refers to the ability of the professional practitioner to perform his task as per expectation of the client who pegs all his/her faith on the knowledge of that professional. For instance, a patient has all the expectation that a healthcare professional has sufficient knowledge and competence to carry out all the work related to medication with no possibility of failure. In the case of Janet, she had all the confidence with the medication received and her initial sign of happiness was not because of receiving the right medication but it was because she had confidence and faith on the doctor. She did not expect that the doctor was likely to lack experience or knowledge on any health issue.
In response to the complaint, it should be understood that the level of competence varies depending on specialization and experience in the field. The board should investigate the complaint to identify whether there was any professional incompetence and whether the same could have been avoided and whether the complainant incurred any loss on receiving wrong medication. I such a case, the professional guidelines should be enforced based on the outcome of the investigations.
In diagnosing Janet’s complaints, the symptoms exhibited resembled those of adjustment disorder as per the doctor’s judgment, and having not dealt with bipolar disorder, there was no possibility of diagnosing it based on the information given and code of practice was conformed to.
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Janet had the right to return for further diagnosis when the medication failed to work but she preferred to stop therapy and engage a different therapist. This could have enabled the correction of the mistake as early as possible or even referral to more experienced therapist. Competence requires combination of formal training, continuous practice and development and experience.
In practice, there is likelihood of error and being the first case there is an opportunity for learning and polishing up the skills and developing competence. Being new in the field, there is need for specialized training on bipolar disorders. Although professional ethics may call for responsibility and accountaability in conduct of work, sometimes mistakes happen unexpectedly and therefore it becomes a learning experience for corrective measures.
To avoid such a complaint occurring in the future, there is need for continuous development of skills and training to acquire new skills. In addition, more exposure is required to gain sufficient experience and competence in the field. This may be afforded through in-job training or special programs being organized by the employer or the licensing authority. The licensing authorities should also set and enforce standards that must be met by all practitioners in order to improve level competence.
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The professional standards should also elaborate in strong terms the professional ethics that need to be adhered detailing the legal standards of accountability and responsibility on perceived risks in conduct of the work. This will help avoid cases of mistake due to the awareness of repercussion of making a mistake whether deliberate or otherwise. This is in line to the realization that healthcare is a delicate profession, the mistake of which may even result to death or permanent injuries.
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