EBP and professionalism

In the last blog I promised more on the professionalism thing, so here it is. Tbh, I’ve been humming and haa-ing about whether to bother responding to accusations of unprofessional from behind the cloak of anonymity. The reason, they say, is fear of being embarrassed by other people’s responses to their views (Anonymous of Leeds) or being ‘taken apart’ (Anonymous PT Band7), which seems odd to me. If one is worried that one’s views will be thought embarrassing, why express them in a public forum? Equally to avoid being ‘taken apart’, just make sure you present a robust argument that can’t be ‘taken apart’. If the contributor doesn’t even have the confidence and strength of conviction to put their name to their views, then it is pretty debateable how seriously anyone else should take it. It doesn’t even need to be a real name for goodness sake, a pseudonym will do. But some sort of moniker is needed so other readers can distinguish between all the different Anonymouses (or should that be Anonymi). Ho um, each to their own, I guess

Anyway up, back to the professionalism thing. It now nearly 25 years since Bobath fans accused me of being unprofessional. I had published the results of my MSc which provided objective evidence contradicting the Bobath dogma of the day (that walking aids are Bad and should not be used). Folk were so incensed by this shocking impertinence that a petition was started calling for the CSP should discipline me for bringing the profession in to disrepute. I don’t know what ever happened to it, maybe they didn’t get many signatures, maybe green ink fades quickly, maybe the petition went off to the CPS, but nothing ever came of it. I was later made a fellow of the Chartered Society for my contribution to the profession and advancing neurological physiotherapy, so not that unprofessional then, eh? But the accusations continue now and then, usually when I’ve published or presented something that they don’t agree with and makes them uncomfortable by its suggesting alternative ways of practicing, and they like it the way it is.

Now, as on previous occasions, I have asked folk to explain what they find unprofessional, I am would be quite happy to apologise and retract whatever is unprofessional, if my actions can be shown to be so. I’ve never had a response from named or anonymous sources. I can’t help think that this is because:

  • it is not unprofessional to have a view that differs from yours
  • it is not unprofessional to express that view
  • it is not unprofessional to question the status quo
  • it is not unprofessional to objectively and critically examine physiotherapy practice and highlight short-comings where they exist
  • it is not unprofessional to make suggestions about how physiotherapy could or should progress
  • it is not unprofessional expect others, especially others who claim to have particular expertise, to be justify the claims that promote (and sell).

It IS unprofessional to continue to use interventions that have been superseded by effective ones, however sincerely one believes/feels/ ‘sees’, it is a good thing and they like doing it. As we have noted before in these discussions, it probably human nature to hit out at those who do not support what an individual holds dear and it is challenging to acknowledge that practise is no longer fit for purpose and needs to change, especially when one has invested and gained much from the old practice. But that is what professional practise is all about.


2 thoughts on “EBP and professionalism

  1. I’ve only just come across this blog Sarah and I love it. Probably because I agree with everything that you say about being professional/unprofessional and I still use my stick as you know. But the stick is for my benefit and not to beat people with(yet)! Brin Helliwell strokesurvivor and Stroke research activist with a limp


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