how professional boundaries keep everone safe

Your professor pays you many compliments, offers a research position and invites you to stay with them after hours to work…

Your counselor is overly complimentary about your attractiveness and offers to help you work on your marriage without the presence of your partner while complaining about their own marriage.

Your boss/preceptor invites you to pet sit in their home, then to co-present a paper at an out of town conference, dinner followed by hotel room….

A favourite patient who is about to be discharged asks to be “friends” on Facebook.

A patient gives you a generous “free sample” of a product they market. Do you accept?

You are having romantic dreams about a client and look forward immensely to their next visit.

Mnemonic for PROFESSIONAL BOUNDARIES: “BE TESTED”


BOUNDARIES = Best practice requires self-awareness and objectivity.

EXPECTATION of clear roles = Put best interests of employees/patients equal to your professional needs.

TRANSPARENCY= Could you tell someone of your behavior? If not, don’t do it. Include your professional colleague, superiors, head office if needed. Avoid isolating yourself.

EXCEPTIONS= Altering standard plans or regular (office) hours is a red flag.

SELF-DISCLOSURE = Proceed with discernment. Otherwise, it can lead to burdensome and confusing role reversal.

TRUST= You hold a position of power. Wield with care.

EXPLOITATION= What are you gaining? Potential long term consequences? Vow to Do No Harm.

DOCUMENT= Could you write it down? Where? What is your rationale for this being in the employee /patient’s long term best interests?


B-E T-E-S-T-E-D to find yourself on the right side of the line of power.

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