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Clin Anat. 2006 Jul;19(5):473-9.

Physician professionalism for a new century.

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Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky 40536-0284, USA.


During the past 50 years, physicians have become increasingly dissatisfied with certain aspects of their profession. Dissatisfaction has intensified with the advent of managed care in the late 20th century, the medical liability crisis, and the growing divergence between the professional and personal expectations placed upon physicians and their practical ability to meet these expectations. These and other factors have encroached on physician autonomy, the formerly ascendant professional value within medicine. As the underlying values and practical realities of the broader American health care system have changed, the professional values and practices of physicians have failed to adapt correspondingly, resulting in a "professionalism gap" that contributes to physician dissatisfaction. To improve the outlook and efficacy of modern American physicians, the profession must adopt a new values framework that conforms to today's health care system. This means foregoing the 20th century's preferred "independent physician" model in favor of a new professional structure based on teamwork and collaboration. Convincing established physicians to embrace such a model will be difficult, but opportunities exist for significant progress among a new generation of physicians accustomed to the realities of managed care, flexible practice models, and health information technology. The teaching of clinical anatomy, given its incorporation of student collaboration at the earliest stages of medical education, offers a prime opportunity to introduce this generation to a reinvigorated code of professionalism that should reduce physician dissatisfaction and benefit society.

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