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How the Idea of Profession Changed the Writing of Medical History

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.319.7215.1011a (Published 09 October 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:1011
  1. Richard Westcott, general practitioner
  1. South Molton, Devon

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    John C Burnham

    Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine £32, pp 195

    ISBN 0854840672

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    So, what is a profession? The modern French word is general, referring to the civil status of having an occupation, such as being an artisan or even unemployed. The German Beruf carries the idea of the Latin “vocation”—a calling to which one responds by professing. After finding no word in his language, a Japanese researcher declared that the term was parochial, only making sense in European history since late medieval times. Different then in time and place, the concept of the profession has evolved, …

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