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Does regulation affect professional identity – and what does it mean for care?

The Professional Standards Authority has today published its review of literature on professional identity.

How doctors, nurses and others see themselves professionally is likely to affect how they behave in the workplace: how they interact with colleagues, and how they treat patients. This self-image is known as professional identity and there are many factors which can influence how it is acquired, developed and retained.

Our latest literature review delves into those factors. For example, the images of doctors and nurses in ‘Carry on Doctor’ persists almost half a century after the film was made. Whereas other health professionals receive so little exposure, that one pharmacist implored, ‘We do need somebody, a role model in one of these soaps, because people believe them, because doctors do get a better showing, nurses as well….’.

Other factors that can have an impact, include:

  • Training and education
  • Professional bodies
  • Sense of vocation and personal values
  • Wearing a uniform.

Christine Braithwaite, Director of Standards and Policy, comments:

‘The review has shown that professional identity is a flexible construction which is receptive to a range of factors. The review’s findings will hopefully be useful to regulators thinking about the role of regulation in supporting professionalism and protecting patients.’

This literature review forms part of our wider work looking at how regulation affects health and social care professionals’ behaviour. Besides looking at the factors that contribute to developing a professional identity, the review also considers how professional identity is defined as well as what role it plays in the practice of health and social care. It concludes by saying that a strong professional identity can increase a professional’s valuation of their role which brings benefits, not only to the professional themselves but also to patients. The full paper is available to read on our website.


Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care


Christine Braithwaite, Director of Standards and Policy

Reception: 020 7389 8030


Notes to the Editor

  1. The Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (previously known as the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence) oversees nine statutory bodies that regulate health and social care professionals in the UK.
  2. We assess their performance and report to Parliament. We also conduct audits and investigations and can appeal fitness to practise cases to the courts if we consider that sanctions are unduly lenient and it is in the public interest.
  3. We also set standards for organisations holding voluntary registers for health and social care occupations and accredit those that meet them.
  4. We share good practice and knowledge, conduct research and introduce new ideas to our sector. We monitor policy developments in the UK and internationally and provide advice on issues relating to professional standards in health and social care.
  5. We do this to promote the health, safety and wellbeing of users of health and social care services and the public. We are an independent body, accountable to the UK Parliament.
  6. Our values are at the heart of who we are and what we do. We are committed to being impartial, fair, accessible and consistent in the application of our values.
  7. More information about our work and the approach we take is available at