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Ethics: Professionalism and Medicine

HSS Journal

“The practice of medicine is not a business and can never be one…Our fellow creatures cannot be dealt with as a man deals in corn and coal; the human heart by which we live must control our professional relations.”  Sir William Osler, 1903

It is widely acknowledged that potent forces of a political, legal, and market-driven nature are producing great stress on the practice of medicine. Recognizing that such influences potentially threaten the underpinnings that unite physicians, patients and society, there is widespread concern both inside and outside the profession concerning the impact such forces impart on medical practice.  As a consequence of these matters the discourse pertaining to medical professionalism is of considerable interest to the practicing physician and their professional societies, the institutions where they work, as well as the myriad of bodies that oversee and regulate the practice of medicine.  This interest has spawned a substantial literature examining the influences that bear on how medicine is practiced and broadly perceived.  This paper is an attempt to distill the prodigious and often contentious literature.

This article appears in HSS Journal: Volume 3, Number 2.
View the full article at springerlink.com.

About the HSS Journal
HSS Journal, an academic peer-reviewed journal, is published twice a year, February and September, and features articles by internal faculty and HSS alumni that present current research and clinical work in the field of musculoskeletal medicine performed at HSS, including research articles, surgical procedures, and case reports.


Headshot of C. Ronald MacKenzie, MD
C. Ronald MacKenzie, MD
Attending Physician, Hospital for Special Surgery
Co-Medical Director, Center for Brachial Plexus and Traumatic Nerve Injury

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