Korean J Gastroenterol.  2015 Mar;65(3):165-172. 10.4166/kjg.2015.65.3.165.

Medical Professionalism-on Social Responsibilities Viewed from Historical Perspective

  • 1Department of Medical Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Ethics Committee, The Korean Society of Gastroenterology, Seoul, Korea. jhk@amc.seoul.kr


What is medical professionalism and does it matter to the patients? Medical professionals take responsibility for their judgements and the consequences that ensue. Traditionally medical professionalism is defined as a set of values, behaviors, and relationships which support the trust the public has in doctors. The public is well aware that absence of professionalism is harmful to their interests. However, the exercise of medical professionalism is endangered by the political and cultural environment. The values of professionalism have been changed throughout the medical history and the meaning of it was also changed according to social theories. Traditional medical professionalism was based on the virtue of autonomy, self-regulation and competency etc. However, in the new millenium era, the meaning of professionalism has changed under the concept of responsibility which includes the classical virtues. The meaning of professionalism nowadays is only based on the structure and conflicting theories which cannot solve all the issues surrounding professionalism in medical practice. The conditions of medical practice are critical determinants for the future of professionalism. The interaction between doctor and patient is central to the medical care, and medical professionalism has roots in almost every aspect of medical care. I argue that doctors have responsibility to act according to the values which have been determined by the medical profession, history and surrounding society. The new millennium medical professionalism which based on the responsibility could initiate a public dialogue about the role of the doctor in creating a fairer society.


Professional autonomy; Social responsibility; History of medicine

MeSH Terms

Ethics, Medical
History of Medicine
Physician-Patient Relations
Social Responsibility

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