The role of the doctor is more than just someone to be there to treat the sick or injured. They also are to be held to the highest standards of integrity, competence, and high moral values. Public trust is an essential part of the job. However, as healthcare reform and technology continue to boom–it leaves the entire medical profession scrambling to keep up. I mean, it’s called “healthcare”—not “healthdon’tcare.”
However, as much as we hope that all medical professionals are cherubs of our health’s best interest, we have all probably known certain bad eggs that “spoil the entire dozen.” For example, physicians are using all these new self-regulatory software to document their “quality” care. However, the downside is that using these programs can be so time-consuming that it, in fact, can hinder the practice itself. You probably have seen it before—like the doctors that will just write a prescription for anything without even touching the patient. Or, we may have seen a patient who had been to a doctor that supposedly did the same tests as us a week ago…yet major obvious problems were found by a brief inspection. Does this mean that some medical “professionals” are actually crooked liars?
“Professional competence is the habitual and judicious use of communication, knowledge, technical skills, clinical reasoning, emotions, values, and reflection in daily practice for the benefit of the individual and community being served.”
—Epstein and Hundert
Values of a Physician Professionalism:
- Altruism: Putting the needs of the patient ahead of the gains of personal interest.
- Duty: Ability to serve others, on and off the clock. Even being “on-call” when not on the clock. Essentially, being fully committed to their job tasks.
- Respect: Showing dignity and esteem for not only patients—but their families, your colleagues, and others.
- Integrity: Providing fair and honest interactions with patients.
- Accountability: Taking responsibility for their patient’s health and the treatment plan implicated.
For less seasoned specialists, the role models that they have been exposed to can leave an unrealistic idea of a real doctor persona. For example, television portrays medical practitioners as goofy, morally loose, and just plain unprofessional. Additionally, studies have shown that medical school can be largely responsible for causing patients to graduate with cynicism. Sure, they may attend a highly renowned program with high levels of values, but experiences in medical school have shown that their initial idealism and hopes for becoming an ethical doctor gets washed away fast. Try to ensure physician professionalism by avoiding apathy!
In a lot of ways, medical professionals are becoming less attached to their patients as well. Smaller, patient-focused practices are heading towards extinction and there’s less commitment to the personal needs of each person we treat. It needs to be more about creating a positive sense of what a physician should be—as opposed to solely focusing on only defining ourselves by what we have to get done.
What does society expect in medicine?
Competence, altruism, accountability, transparency, providing quality advice, high morals.
What do medical workers expect of society?
Trust, sharing responsibility of health between self and patient, status and rewards (respect, status, financially), high value health care system, and self-regulation.