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Professional

Definition

As Professionals, physicians are committed to the health and well-being of individual patients and society through ethical practice, high personal standards of behaviour, accountability to the profession and society, physician-led regulation, and maintenance of personal health.

Description*

Physicians serve an essential societal role as professionals dedicated to the health and care of others. Their work requires mastery of the art, science, and practice of medicine. A physician’s professional identity is central to this Role. The Professional Role reflects contemporary society’s expectations of physicians, which include clinical competence, a commitment to ongoing professional development, promotion of the public good, adherence to ethical standards, and values such as integrity, honesty, altruism, humility, respect for diversity, and transparency with respect to potential conflicts of interest. It is also recognized that, to provide optimal patient care, physicians must take responsibility for their own health and well-being and that of their colleagues. Professionalism is the basis of the implicit contract between society and the medical profession, granting the privilege of physician-led regulation with the understanding that physicians are accountable to those served, to society, to their profession, and to themselves.

KEY CONCEPTS

  • Professional identity: 1.1, 4.1, 4.2

Commitment to patients

  • Altruism: 1.1
  • Bioethical principles and theories: 1.3
  • Commitment to excellence in clinical practice and mastery of the discipline: 1.2
  • Compassion and caring: 1.1
  • Confidentiality and its limits: 1.1, 1.5
  • Disclosure of physician limitations that affect care: 1.1
  • Insight: 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 2.1
  • Integrity and honesty: 1.1
  • Moral and ethical behaviour: 1.1, 1.3
  • Professional boundaries: 1.1
  • Respect for diversity: 1.1

Commitment to society

  • Commitment to the promotion of the public good in health care: 2.1, 2.2
  • Social accountability: 2.1, 2.2
  • Social contract in health care: 2.1, 2.2
  • Societal expectations of physicians and the profession: 2.1, 2.2

Commitment to the profession

  • Accountability to professional regulatory authorities: 3.1
  • Codes of ethics: 3.1
  • Commitment to patient safety and quality improvement: 2.1, 4.1
  • Commitment to professional standards: 3.1
  • Conflicts of interest (personal, financial, administrative, etc.): 1.4
  • Medico-legal frameworks governing practice: 3.1, 3.3
  • Responsibility to the profession, including obligations of peer assessment, mentorship, collegiality, and support: 3.2, 3.3, 4.3

Commitment to self

  • Applied capacity for self-regulation, including the assessment and monitoring of one’s thoughts, behaviours, emotions, and attention for optimal performance and well-being: 4.1
  • Career development and career transitions: 4.1, 4.2
  • Commitment to disclosure of harmful patient safety incidents, including those resulting from medical error, and their impact: 4.2, 4.3
  • Mindful and reflective approach to practice: 4.2
  • Resilience for sustainable practice: 4.2
  • Responsibility to self, including personal care, in order to serve others: 4.1
Key competencies Enabling competencies
Physicians are able to:
  • 1. Demonstrate a commitment to patients by applying best practices and adhering to high ethical standards
  • 1.1 Exhibit appropriate professional behaviours and relationships in all aspects of practice, demonstrating honesty, integrity, humility, commitment, compassion, respect, altruism, respect for diversity, and maintenance of confidentiality
  • 1.2 Demonstrate a commitment to excellence in all aspects of practice
  • 1.3 Recognize and respond to ethical issues encountered in practice
  • 1.4 Recognize and manage conflicts of interest
  • 1.5 Exhibit professional behaviours in the use of technology-enabled communication
  • 2. Demonstrate a commitment to society by recognizing and responding to societal expectations in health care
  • 2.1 Demonstrate accountability to patients, society, and the profession by responding to societal expectations of physicians
  • 2.2 Demonstrate a commitment to patient safety and quality improvement
  • 3. Demonstrate a commitment to the profession by adhering to standards and participating in physician-led regulation
  • 3.1 Fulfill and adhere to the professional and ethical codes, standards of practice, and laws governing practice
  • 3.2 Recognize and respond to unprofessional and unethical behaviours in physicians and other colleagues in the health care professions
  • 3.3 Participate in peer assessment and standard-setting
  • 4. Demonstrate a commitment to physician health and well-being to foster optimal patient care
  • 4.1 Exhibit self-awareness and manage influences on personal well-being and professional performance
  • 4.2 Manage personal and professional demands for a sustainable practice throughout the physician life cycle
  • 4.3 Promote a culture that recognizes, supports, and responds effectively to colleagues in need

* The Role description draws from Cruess SR, Johnston S, Cruess RL. “Profession”: a working definition for medical educators. Teach Learn Med. 2004;16(1):74–6 and from Cruess SR, Cruess RL. Professionalism and medicine’s social contract with society. Virtual Mentor. 2004;6(4).