The conceptualization of medicine as a profession that was held to ethical and practical standards was first formalized through the writings of 18th century British physician-ethicists Gregory and Percival. This was in response to the lack of standardization in both training and practice that existed within medicine at the time. Percival’s Medical Ethics subsequently served as reference for the first Code of Medical Ethics issued by the American Medical Association (AMA) in 1847. Today, it is universally accepted that an important aspect of becoming a physician is the learning and implementing of high standards of medical professionalism into practice. Professionalism as identified by The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) is a core competency for residents and includes compassion, responsiveness to patient needs that supersedes self-interest, respect for patient privacy, and sensitivity to diverse patient populations. Professionalism is viewed as not only the competence or skill expected of a professional, but requires one to act appropriately at all times using essential behaviors including being approachable, polite, courteous and respecting confidentiality and dignity. Moreover, it also necessitates us to challenge poor practice and unacceptable behaviors and attitudes.
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