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A Bit of History

In the mid-to-late 1990s, the concept of professionalism began to emerge in circles of healthcare and medical education. There was recognition that, for the profession of medicine, the commitment to the patient was being challenged by external forces of change in society (e.g. managed care, and healthcare financing challenges). Society, and the profession itself, experienced a call for a renewed sense of professionalism.

Published in Lancet in 2002, the Physicians' Charter was a product of the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine (ACP-ASIM), the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation (ABIMF), and the European Federation of Internal Medicine (EFIM). The chairman of this project was Dr. John Stobo, who later became the president of University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB)..

The Charter outlines three fundamental principles underlying professionalism:

    • primacy of patients' welfare
    • patients' autonomy
    • social justice

and a set of 10 professional commitments:

Commitments to:

  • professional competence
  • honesty with patients
  • patients' confidentiality
  • maintaining appropriate relationships with patients
  • improving quality of care
  • improving access to care
  • just distribution of finite resources
  • scientific knowledge
  • maintaining trust by managing conflicts of interest
  • professional responsibilities