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Mt Sinai J Med. 2002 Nov;69(6):357-62.

Themes in the history of medical professionalism.

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University of Pennsylvania, Department of History and Sociology of Science, 303 Logan Hall, 249 South 36th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6304, USA.


Professionalism in medicine is an ambiguous term. Discussions are hampered by understandings of the past that are counterproductive to today s debates. Three decades of criticism of physicians as self-interested and arrogant, and of professional organizations as unfairly monopolistic have shaken the confidence of professional leaders and their constituents in their ability to act as a positive social force, and left the concept of professional autonomy without a useful meaning. Inherited assumptions about conflict between the profession, government and the market have encouraged organizational policies to fight familiar enemies for short-term gains, rather than reinvent professionalism as a social force or seek new strategic alliances. This article stresses the importance of distancing the present from the past in re-inventing professionalism for the future, and lists eight fundamental goals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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