Category: Lessons From Other Professions

Airline pilots stop post-operative deaths.

Excuse the misleading heading, but stay with me!

In the 2000’s, the World Health Organisation started a movement to have surgeons use checklists.  They used them pre-, during- and post-operation.

It meant that the right patients were being operated on, that those patients were correctly prepared, that all procedures were followed and that all materials were accounted for afterwards.

By 2009, it was estimated that the use of checklists reduced operation-related deaths by 40%. By 2019, the practice was used across the world, saving countless lives.

But there was initially a cultural resistance.

Surgeons are, well, surgeons.  The chosen ones.  The top of the esteem pile.  What could airline pilots possibly teach them?

Checklists, that’s what.

That amazing success inspired this series of blogs.

People in different occupations have unique challenges to their professionalism.

Police officers have the challenge of developing a persona that helps them apprehend crooks and keep the peace; teachers have the challenge of how to moderate the behaviour of young children; there are thousands of examples.

In this section, we look at the main professionalism challenges of different occupations and identify what we can learn and apply to our own personal professionalism.