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December 12, 2007

Medical Professionalism in a Commercialized Health Care Market

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Departments of Medicine and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

JAMA. 2007;298(22):2668-2670. doi:10.1001/jama.298.22.2668

Medical professionalism in the United States is facing a crisis, just as serious as the crisis facing the health care system, and the 2 crises are interrelated.

To understand today's crisis in medical professionalism requires knowing what a profession is and what role it plays in modern society. Freidson1 considered a profession to be 1 of 3 options modern society has for controlling and organizing work. The other 2 options are the free market and management by organizations such as government or private businesses. Freidson suggested that medical work was totally unsuited for control by the market or by government or business and, therefore, the practice of medicine could only be conducted properly as a profession.