Personal Responsibility Vs. Professional Responsibility


Personal responsibility refers to a person's individual obligations to herself, family, friends, community and coworkers. Personal responsibilities include house payments, car payments, student loans, medical bills, utilities, childcare and personal care. An individual is also personally responsible for her own happiness, emotional well-being, intellectual development and career satisfaction. Professional responsibility refers to ethical practices and moral considerations in the workplace. Specific careers demand different levels of professional responsibility.

General Professional Responsibilities

  • Professional responsibility generally refers to a duty an employee owes to his employer and his clients. An employer expects an employee to provide professional quality service and communication at all times, through oral and written communication. An employee has professional responsibilities to manage a case load, complete assignments in a timely manner and to make contributions as a productive team member.

Specific Professional Responsibilities

  • Professional responsibility specifically refers to a code of ethics or oath of office required in certain professions. Politicians take an oath of office and promise to serve their constituencies as public figures. Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath to provide the best medical care to their patients and to protect human life. Attorneys take a professional responsibility examination and vow to uphold client confidences and be truthful to the court. The public expects financial investors and bank managers to advise clients honestly and invest their money wisely.

Professional Associations

  • All elected officers, public administrators and civil servants hold a professional responsibility to the public. Working professionals such as doctors, dentists, lawyers, engineers, scientists, accountants and other specialists often belong to professional organizations. The professional organizations establish a code of ethics for the trade practices to protect the reputation of all professionals within a given field. The professional organizations also discipline, sanction and expel professionals from the field. Individuals who fall far below the expected level of professional responsibility are forced out of the field.

Personal Responsibilities

  • Professional responsibility changes from profession to profession. However, it generally applies to all individuals within the same profession at the same level of responsibility equally. Personal responsibility changes from individual to individual based on upbringing, moral compass, religious beliefs, family dynamics, social perspectives, cultural values and financial resources. Personal responsibility applies to every area of an individual's life, beyond his professional and work-related responsibilities. Each individual takes personal responsibility for his own life, the choices he makes, the actions he takes and the actions he fails to take. An individual fails to take personal responsibility when he blames everyone around him for his life circumstances.

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