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Professionalism, the status of being considered a true professional, is not a technical or legal distinction. Rather it is a social contract between a group and society that is based on trust. The social contract carries with it certain responsibilities and corresponding privileges:


  • To establish and continually advance a valid body of knowledge that is applied for the public good.
  • To share knowledge freely among the members of the profession and make it available for public scrutiny (not monopolize it for purposes of gainful leverage).
  • To maintain professional capability within acceptable limits of the current state-of-the-art through lifelong participating in continuing education.
  • To establish, maintain, and apply standards of educational practice that are aimed at assuring excellence.
  • To establish and adhere to a code of behavior (ethics) that may be more demanding than prevailing civil law.
  • To adhere to service as a fundamental ethic that puts the interests of those being served ahead of self-interest and to act as an advocate of those being served.
  • To contribute to society beyond the practice of the profession by being active in the community.
  • To engage in debate, self-examination, and the correction of deficiencies on a voluntary and continuing basis.
  • To do all of the above in a spirit of caring and respect for the dignity of those being served.


  • Recognition and respect as a learned individual (or group) who acts for the public good and contributes to society.
  • Freedom to determine the standards of conduct and practice from within the profession rather than being subject to externally generated standards and enforcement.
  • Freedom to exercise professional judgment in the application of the body of knowledge without external judgment except by one's peers.
  • Freedom to earn a living from the practice of one's profession and to establish the basis for the economic relationship with those being served without external interference.

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