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October 1987

Is Ophthalmic Surgery a Professional Activity?

Arch Ophthalmol. 1987;105(10):1337-1338. doi:10.1001/archopht.1987.01060100039020

The art and techniques of surgery have not always been considered a part of the profession of medicine. Indeed, surgery was considered to be beneath the physician and was a craft left to barbers and other purveyors to the ill. Various happenings, including technological change, increased knowledge of anatomy and physiologic function, and understanding of the relationship between anatomic pathology and disease, moved surgery out of the range of a "lay" craft and into a realm requiring considerable knowledge as well as skill. If the public needs the protection of quality control and licensure for medical practitioners (this has not always been the case), then the modern practice of surgery should be subject to the same sorts of societal restraint.

Medicine has historically been considered one of the three learned professions, along with law and theology. The military is sometimes listed as a fourth. These professions are thought to be

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