Professionalism, profession and the virtues of the good physician

Mt Sinai J Med. 2002 Nov;69(6):378-84.


The putative loss of professionalism in medicine has of late become of serious concern to practitioners, educators, ethicists and the public. Impassioned pleas for its restitution abound. Serious ethical obligations are linked to the idea of a profession. Yet, most of the definitions have been socio-historical, political or legal. Important as these aspects may be, there is need for a firmly grounded ethical derivation of the moral dimensions of professionalism. This essay undertakes to provide a philosophical grounding for ethically responsible professionalism in the phenomena of clinical medicine, in the character of the professional, and in virtue theory.

MeSH terms

  • Ethical Theory
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Humans
  • Medicine / standards*
  • Physicians / standards*
  • Professional Competence / standards
  • United States
  • Virtues