Virtual conference hears perspectives on 'Professionalism in a Pandemic'

  • General news

Perspectives on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on medical professionalism, and the lessons that might be learned, were shared at the 2021 Medical Professionalism conference, hosted by RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Over 700 delegates across the world joined the conference, which was supported by Bon Secours Health System. A photography competition at the conference was sponsored by the Medical Protection Society.

An expert panel of international speakers, from frontline practice to medical education to healthcare leadership, addressed issues including the significance of role models and mentors as well as self-care. A session on clinical practice in a pandemic looked at the issues that arose in critical care, surgery, physiotherapy and nursing.

The conference was joined by Professors Richard and Sylvia Creuss, Emeritus Professors at the Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, who discussed the idea of professional identify formation as a journey, not a destination.

The conference also heard from Dr Rita Doyle, President of the Irish Medical Council, and Professor Sue Carr, Deputy Medical Director at the UK General Medical Council. Dr Colm Henry, HSE Chief Clinical Officer, shared his reflections on phase three of COVID-19.

Professor Denis Harkin, Chair of Medical Professionalism at RCSI, said: "Professionalism means that we strive to embody those values, behaviours, and relationships which enable our patients, and the public, to have trust in us to be compassionate, have integrity, and act for their best-interests.

"During the pandemic we have seen great compassion and great courage from our Healthcare Professionals, selflessly placing themselves in harm’s way to help patients and support their colleagues. Professionalism means doing the right thing, at the right time, and for the right reasons. This conference gave us the opportunity to consider lessons learnt. Out of respect for the healthcare workers who lost as a result of COVID, we are duty-bound to ensure we take the necessary steps to emerge more resilient, rebuild our health systems and society, and are better prepared for future challenges," added Professor Harkin.

Bill Maher, CEO of Bon Secours Health System, said: "Professionalism is at the core of how we treat our patients, value our staff and ultimately drive our organisation. It underpins who we are and how we do what we do. This important conference brought together leaders in professionalism to share their experience and lessons learned, particularly during the pandemic. I hope delegates found it valuable and thought provoking, and that it continues to drive this important agenda and raise the bar. I would like to commend RCSI for their leadership in this area and all of the speakers for giving their time and energy to making this conference such a success."

Resources from the conference will be available at

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