Becoming professional in the 21st century is an increasingly complex journey in a globalised, constantly changing and "next gen" technology-focused world with an increasing pursuit of professionalisation by many occupations. For an individual, becoming a professional is a process that develops not only specific knowledge and technical skills, but also a sense of responsibility to self and others, duty of care, leadership and human agency. We will argue that one of the keys to becoming professional is for both students and graduates to continue to learn, understand and integrate different ways of knowing, practising and talking about practice as they develop and extend their professional identity and expertise. The implications and challenges for learning and teaching to become a professional include exposing students to the paradoxes, contradictions and ethical dilemmas in professional practice; providing opportunities to reflect and suspend premature problem solving; helping learners recognize the imperfection of what we currently know; and instilling a sense of curiosity and desire to learn as well as a sense of belonging to a professional group.
This paper is a transcript of the Author's invited presentation at the Inaugural Annual JEPHC Symposium 2009; addressing the theme of "Embedding Professionalism in Paramedic Education and Practice in the setting of Emergency Primary Health Care".