Demonstrating Professionalism

What is Professionalism?

Part of ABPMR's mission is to assure the public that our diplomates uphold the highest standards of professionalism in personal conduct with patients and colleagues.

Read the ABPMR Definition of Professionalism in full below.

Medical Professionalism for ABPMR CC


The first requirement of the Continuing Certification Program through the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (ABPMR) is Professionalism. The requirement is met in part by holding a current, valid, and unrestricted license to practice medicine—which means the physician is upholding the professional requirements of that license.

However, ABPMR standards of medical professionalism go beyond licensure.

All diplomates in good standing of the ABPMR are required to hold a valid license but are also expected to conform to the following definition of professionalism in personal conduct.

ABPMR Definition of Professionalism

Medical professionalism refers to the ideal that the individual physician, as well as the medical profession as a whole, is committed to intellectual and ethical excellence. This is upheld by four fundamental principles:

  • 1.

    The patient is the first priority. Primary to practicing medicine is a physician’s commitment to protect and promote the patient’s health and function above all other considerations, including all forms of self-interest.
  • 2.

    Physicians should possess the latest medical knowledge and current clinical skills. A profession in medicine means a commitment to lifelong learning, including keeping up with current medical knowledge, health system sciences, and clinical and team skills necessary to provide high-quality, evidence-based patient care and optimize functional outcomes.
  • 3.

    Physicians are held to the highest ethical standards. In the practice of medicine, and as members of the larger community, physicians are expected to demonstrate integrity, honesty, fairness, justice, responsibility, and service to the greater good.
  • 4.

    Physicians should care for themselves to be able to care for others. Physicians must recognize and appropriately respond to internal and external factors impacting their well-being and ability to care for their patients and their communities.

These principles are demonstrated in the physician-patient relationship and are evidenced by certain competencies and responsibilities, including, but not limited to:

  • Demonstration of compassion, courtesy, and respect for patients, including sensitivity to unique healthcare needs of a culturally diverse patient population, and particularly, patients with functional impairments
  • Use of effective communication and interpersonal skills with patients and caregivers
  • Responsiveness to patient needs without exploitation for any personal gain or private purpose
  • Respect for patient autonomy
  • Commitment to patient confidentiality
  • Disclosing and appropriately managing conflicts and dualities of interest
  • Acknowledging, disclosing, and reporting errors
  • Accountability to the medical profession and society at large
  • Sensitivity to a diverse patient population

The principles are also demonstrated in physician roles in systems of practice and the community, and include, but are not limited to:

  • Improve the safety and quality of health care and of the overall health of individuals and communities
  • Use of effective communication, team and leadership skills with colleagues, healthcare teams, health systems, healthcare organizations, professional societies, and communities
  • Advocacy for the recognition and elimination of bias, discrimination, and disparities in the structure and provision of health care and for the equitable access and distribution of health care resources. Physiatrists also have an important role as advocates in these areas for persons with disabilities.
  • Optimize personal physical and mental health, interpersonal relationships, and career engagement
  • Accountability to the medical profession and society at large