HEC Forum

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Professionalism: An Archaeology

  • Tom KochEmail author


For more than two decades, classes on “professionalism” have been the dominant platform for the non-technical socialization of medical students. It thus subsumes elements of previous foundation courses in bioethics and “medicine and society” in defining the appropriate relation between practitioners, patients, and society-at-large. Despite its importance, there is, however, no clear definition of what “professionalism” entails or the manner in which it serves various purported goals. This essay reviews, first, the historical role of the vocational practitioner in society, and second, the introduction of “professionalism” as a newly constituted, core value in teaching. The structure of the paper is as an archaeology, a Foucauldian term for an investigation of seemingly separate but related antecedent contexts and ideas whose result is a perspective or point of view. The goal thus is an attempt to precisely locate “professionalism” within the greater history of medicine and its contemporary role in medical socialization.


Bioethics Hippocratic Oath Medicine Professionalism Burn-out 



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography (Medical)University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Alton Medical CentreTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Information Outreach, Ltd.TorontoCanada

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