Professionalism of Medicine in the 21st Century

An article is titled Medical Professionalism in the New Millennium: A Physician Charter in the Annals of Internal Medicine, vol. 136, no. 3, pages 243-246, February 5, 2002,

In the second paragraph appears the words:

“…conditions of medical practice are tempting physicians to abandon their commitment to the primacy of patient welfare”

The article then goes on to discuses a preamble

“Professionalism is the basis of medicine’s contract with society. It demands placing the interests of patients above those of the physician, setting and maintaining standards of competence and integrity, and providing expert advice to society on matters of health. The principles and responsibilities of medical professionalism must be clearly understood by both the profession and society. Essential to this contract is public trust in physicians, which depends on the integrity of both individual physicians and the whole profession.”

The article talks about 3 fundamental principles of medical professionalism:

  1. Principle of primacy of patient welfare
  2. Principle of patient autonomy
  3. Principle of social justice

The article then discusses a set of Professional Responsibilities

  1. Commitment to professional competence
  2. Commitment to honesty with patients
  3. Commitment to patient confidentiality
  4. Commitment to maintaining appropriate relations with patients.
  5. Commitment to improving quality of care
  6. Commitment to improving access to care
  7. Commitment to a just distribution of finite resources
  8. Commitment to scientific knowledge
  9. Commitment to maintaining trust by managing conflicts of interest
  10. Commitment to professional responsibilities

The second to last sentence of the article ends with

“To maintain the fidelity of medicine’s social contract during this turbulent time, we believe that physicians must reaffirm their active dedication to the principles of professionalism, which entails not only their personal commitment to the welfare of their patients but also collective efforts to improve the health care system for the welfare of society.”

As indicated clearly on my website many physicians need to take the time to reaffirm their dedication to professionalism and perhaps reassess why they went into medicine.

As indicated current scientific knowledge does not support or refute the extraction of healthy wisdom teeth except for under clear indications. However the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) continues to not provide this information on their website regarding wisdom teeth

An article is titled Government Policies in Violation of Human Rights as a Barrier to Professionalism in JAMA, vol. 306, no. 5 pages 541-542. August 3, 2011,

In the article it says

“However, deeply embedded institutional and organizational impediments often beyond the control of the physician (eg, inequitable access to care and reimbursement systems that create disincentives to proper care) can undermine physicians’ ability to adhere to these professional obligations in clinical practice”

Clearly much work still needs to be done.

Additional Source: Professionalism, social justice, and the primacy of patient welfare. Don McCanne MD, Friday, Aug 12, 2011,

Leave a Comment