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Self Representation & Advertising Tips: Code of Ethical Practice

The Australian Society of Dermal Clinicians recently published the code of ethical practice and standards of practice for dermal clinicians and therapists. These are valuable resources for anyone providing skin health services, including dermal clinicians, dermal therapists, skin therapists, students, supervisors, educators and policymakers, and those that employ or work with dermal health professionals.

One of the most common queries, concerns, or even complaints raised with the ASDC is advertising within the dermal sector. These guidance documents have been developed to clarify some of the areas you may have been struggling to navigate.

This post provides some of the more common questions or concerns that can be raised and how this aligns with the ASDC guidance documents and other legislation. This information is not exhaustive and doesn't replace reading the entire document yourself.

Always seek further clarification if you have further questions and investigate your own individual situation, as circumstances may vary.

Generally speaking, these are some of the do's and don'ts in promoting yourself using best practices regarding ethical advertising for dermal health professionals.

You should refer to these guidance documents if you are updating your bio on your website or documentation.

Tips for promoting yourself in advertising.

  1. It is good practice to have your qualifications and affiliations, such as memberships, on display in the physical premises where therapy is provided and listed accurately on any promotional materials, including websites or social media.

  2. Find out from your institution the accepted abbreviation or use the full name of your qualifications. This ensures that your qualification is easily recognised and understood.

  3. Use your endorsed professional title according to your qualifications, accreditation, or professional membership categories. Not sure? Contact the professional body with oversight or governance of these.

  4. Make sure any logos you use in your bio information to demonstrate your affiliations are used within the logo's terms of use or license. For example, only current financial members can use the ASDC logo as evidence of their membership. Not reviewing your advertising may get you in hot water if any of these are used incorrectly.

  5. You should avoid language that implies that you are more qualified or 'specialised' compared to others with the same qualifications in your field. For example, instead, factually state your number of years of experience, the areas you have worked in and/or the conditions you commonly work with, etc.

Why is clear, factually accurate information important?

Like many self-regulated allied health professions, the professional titles dermal clinician and dermal therapist are not regulated or reportable under any legislation currently. Reports are often made to professional bodies to investigate. This usually results in an educative response from the professional body.

Having said that, using a title that is recognised in the industry sector as attached to certain qualifications if you don't have those qualifications can be confusing for the public and for other professionals working with dermal health professionals. Using these titles consistently protects and elevates all dermal health professionals as each are recognised and industry protected for the expertise they have and the roles they play in patient care until more formal regulation exists.

Some titles are regulated. For example, using the word 'specialist' is regulated for medical health professionals. Using these titles can be misleading and confusing for the public as they attach those names to other professions. For example, a "dermal specialist" may mislead the public into believing you have medical qualifications and should be avoided.

Some aspects of your biography can be reported under Health Complaints ACTS in many states around Australia, particularly concerning misrepresentation clauses.

There is a national code of conduct for unregistered health professionals. The name of this legislated code of conduct varies slightly in each state. In most states, this legislation sits with the health ombudsman or the health complaints commissioner to investigate or enforce when required.

You can be reported if a person finds information about you may be fraudulent or misleading others about your qualifications. An example of where this may be a problem is when you state you have a qualification you don't actually have or didn't finish. If you are still studying, it is best practice to state this and use the title student dermal clinician or student dermal therapist for clarity.

**This information is not exhaustive and should not replace reading the codes of conduct in your state and the codes of ethical practice for dermal clinicians and therapists for yourself as well as the national legislation.

For more information regarding the Nationally legislated codes of behaviour for non-registered health professionals, you can find links to these in the members portal and within the Codes of Ethical Behaviours for Dermal Clinicians and Dermal Therapists document. Click on the link below to download the guidance document.

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