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Reviews Book

Measuring Medical Professionalism; Understanding Doctors' Performance

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 29 June 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:49
  1. Donald Irvine (, chairman
  1. Picker Institute Europe, and former president, General Medical Council

    Measuring Medical Professionalism

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    Ed David Thomas Stern

    Oxford University Press, £29.99/$49.50, pp 311 ISBN 0 19 517226 4

    Rating: GraphicGraphicGraphicGraphic

    Understanding Doctors' Performance

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    Eds Jim Cox, Jennifer King, Allen Hutchinson, Pauline McAvoy

    Radcliffe, £27.95/$52, pp 184

    ISBN 1 85775 766 1

    Rating: GraphicGraphicGraphicGraphic

    The past 20 years have seen a resurgence of interest among doctors in the concept and practice of “professionalism.” The Royal College of Physicians of London recently defined medical professionalism as “a set of values, behaviours, and relationships that underpins the public trust in doctors.” In his elegant introduction to Measuring Medical Professionalism, Jordan Cohen, president of the Association of American Medical Colleges, said that a physician imbued with professionalism offers patients by far the best chance of a good outcome in our increasingly sophisticated and risky healthcare system. For patients nothing can substitute for having a trustworthy doctor, “not laws, not regulations, not a patients' bill of rights, not watchdog federal agencies… nothing.”

    So where did this new interest come from? After all, professionalism in medicine has deep historical roots. Until the 1980s it was the undisputed keystone of the regulatory bargain between the state and doctors in …

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