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February 1, 2012

Specialization in Medicine: How Much Is Appropriate?

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Institute of Health Policy Management and Evaluation (Dr Detsky) and Department of Medicine (Dr Detsky and Mr Gauthier), University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital and University Health Network, Toronto (Dr Detsky); and Department of Economics, Stanford University, Stanford, California (Dr Fuchs).

JAMA. 2012;307(5):463-464. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.44

Professions develop around the delivery of specialized services. Lawyers give legal advice, electricians install wiring, and teachers provide education. At some point in the evolution of a field, licensure or certification defines its area of expertise. Licensure is a legal entity allowing only certain people to perform a task. Certification is a non−legally binding designation that informs consumers of qualifications. Frequently, licensing and certification are performed by professional organizations that oversee education, training/apprenticing, and evaluation through examination.

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