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Editor's Correspondence
Jan 23, 2012

What Is Professionalism?

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Associate Dean CME, Emeritus, School of Medicine, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(2):197. doi:10.1001/archinte.172.2.197-a

In reading the Special Article in the August 8/22, 2011, issue of the Archives, with the subtitle “Meeting the Responsibility of Professionalism” it appeared to me that this was a subject of quality performance.1 As defined in the dictionary, professionalism is the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person. General rules of behavior apply to all professions. In medicine these qualities are particularly compelling because much of our fees involve outside organizations including the federal government. A relevant article was recently published addressing this subject as well as health care reform, of vital interest to both our profession and the public.2 This bill has now been passed but is subject to court challenges. In my view, professionalism for a physician means placing the interests of the patient ahead of his or her own interests, including financial interests. Many individual physicians support this bill, but in my opinion medical professional organizations are not enthusiastic about or in support of cost-cutting measures that will affect their income.

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