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Patient-centred care puts the patient at the very centre of their treatment, respecting their experience and values and encouraging them to take an active role in their care.

Healthcare professionals can demonstrate professionalism by taking the time to listen to their patients and reacting and adapting their approach to address a patient’s specific needs and concerns. This approach can help to build trusted relationships and provide reassurance to patients.

A professional approach to patient care includes treating all patients equally and without prejudice and using professional knowledge and expertise to advocate on behalf of a patient to achieve the best outcomes for that patient.

Watch our video on patient-centred care (sometimes called service user-centred care).

Case studies

Healthcare professionals have shared their experiences of demonstrating professionalism through a patient-centred approach

A junior colleague was seeking funding for an augmentative communication aid for a paediatric client.

Due to expense, the education setting opted for a different and, in my colleague’s opinion, a lesser model, which would not meet the child's needs in the long term.

To resolve the situation, she acted on her initiative, borrowed both devices for a trial period, and engaged with both the client, parents and the education stakeholders. She gathered evidence, and user feedback anonymously for both devices and presented information coherently and with a solid evidence base to the fundholders to improve their understanding and encourage them to think beyond a purely economic decision.

She engaged with local charity fundraisers to support ongoing training costs and volunteered her time to access training so that the communication aid could be used to its full potential. In doing so, she raised awareness of a local need in the community which needed support. She was not deterred from her professional judgement and remained calm and knowledgeable throughout, even when faced with some serious discussions and opposition. As a result, the placement has ongoing financial and community support.

My colleague recognised that the device wouldn’t meet her patient’s needs and was prepared to face difficult situations and discussions to fulfil her duty of care to the client and the family. Her commitment to doing what was right was reflected in her willingness to reach out to others and her readiness to volunteer her time.

I attended an incident with a fellow ambulance clinician for a woman in her late 40s who had fallen, which was believed to be due to alcohol intoxication.

During the assessment, the patient became violent, attacking both myself and my crewmate. During the attack and post assault, my crewmate persisted in trying verbal de-escalation and reassuring the patient that we were still there to help her.

His actions were both admirable and highly professional. This example stands out to me as it embodies what it is to be a professional. He set aside his feelings towards his attacker, to treat her as his patient above all else, ensuring her welfare while maintaining safe practices. In my view, it was the perfect demonstration of professionalism and how a professional should act.

As healthcare professionals, we are required to conduct ourselves within specific codes of conduct and we are to be held to account for our actions. Maintaining all actions in a professional manner while dealing with a traumatic incident is nothing short of admirable. It made me reflect on the impression we as professionals can make on patients and the perception from the public who may witness our actions.

My experience as a patient impacted how I act now in my role as a radiographer.

I was admitted to the hospital for what was supposed to be day surgery but ended up as a much more complicated procedure. I was transferred to a ward in a lot of pain and overheard the nurses saying I was being dramatic.

However, one of the nurses exemplified professionalism. She spoke to me like a person, not a procedure. She asked about my pain levels and got me reviewed. She conversed with me, discovered my profession and pitched information at my level. She helped me get used to drains and their care. She sat at the end of my bed while doing her paperwork, chatting with the other patients and me.

I observed how she interacted with all the staff, patients and students in a very professional but friendly and personable manner. I witnessed how she supported a newly graduated, under-confident nurse in a way that helped her gain confidence and skills without feeling patronised.

Being efficient and accurate can be very professional and essential to the role. However, patients value the relationship with their healthcare professional and the time they take to know the patient as a person and provide truly patient-centred care.

Key learnings

Some of the key patient-centred learnings identified from the personal experiences of healthcare professionals include:

  • Make time for a patient, even if you are exceptionally busy and time is limited.
  • Collaborate with other healthcare professionals to ensure that the patient/service user receives the most appropriate care. Engaging with other health professionals and learning more about their areas of expertise and how they help patients is invaluable.
  • Support patients to take an active role in decision-making, ensuring they are fully informed about their treatment options. This includes having a good understanding of their diagnosis as well as the benefits and risks of treatment.
  • Understand the patient’s concerns.
  • Use your professional expertise and knowledge to advocate on behalf of a patient where appropriate to achieve the best outcome.
  • Treat all patients equally and without prejudice, providing the same high standard of care.

Putting the health interests of patients first is highlighted in The Code - Standards of conduct, performance and ethics for chiropractors, which emphasises the importance of promoting a patient’s health and welfare at all times.

Read more about the importance of putting patients at the heart of chiropractic care.

Have you visited our Registrant Resource Centre for guidance, advice, toolkits and more to help chiropractors with their professional development?


A collaborative approach can lead to better coordination of patient care and more effective communication between health professionals.

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Good communication underpins all aspects of professionalism and is critical to building professional relationships with colleagues, patients and other healthcare professionals.

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To deliver a high standard of patient care all healthcare professionals must demonstrate a high level of competence in their specific roles.

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Managers and leaders must lead by example, demonstrating a professional approach through their own values, attitude and behaviours. 

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Reflection is critical to maintaining professional practice and enhancing patient care.

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