Revista médica de Chile
Print version ISSN 0034-9887
RODRIGUEZ P, José Adolfo. Medical professionalism: Historical and religious aspects. Rev. méd. Chile [online]. 2006, vol.134, n.3, pp. 381-384. ISSN 0034-9887. doi: 10.4067/S0034-98872006000300018.
The essence of the medical profession resides in the medical act, whereupon a sick human being meets another with the power to heal him or her. The source of this power has evolved from the divinity itself through magic to science or acquired knowledge. This power implies acknowledgement of values that are inherent to the profession as well as responsibility toward one's own conscience and toward society, elements considered constitutive of what we now call professionalism. From antiquity these principles have evolved into behavioral codes containing variable components according to the different ages and cultures, but also permenent core values such as respect for life, altruism, and honesty, among others. Scientific and technological advances have magnified medical power but at the same time they have required that the philosophical and ethical principles that ought to inform professional practice be made explicit. This happens at a time when certitudes are questioned or abandoned, relativism and secularism pervade culture, and traditional medical values are challenged. Therefore, consensus attainment appears for some as the only legitimation of the ethics of professional medical acts, while for others the ancestral principles and values of medicine have permanent validity as objective goods based on the dignity of the human person
Keywords : Ethics, medical; Practice management, medical; Professional practice.