Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 23 (1) (2002)
|Abstract||Is bioethics consultation a profession? Withfew exceptions, the arguments andcounterarguments about whether healthcareethics consultation is a profession haveignored the historical and cultural developmentof professions in the United States, the wayssocial changes have altered the work andboundaries of all professions, and theprofessionalization theories that explain howmodern societies institutionalize expertise inprofessions. This interdisciplinary analysisbegins to fill this gap by framing the debatewithin a larger theoretical context heretoforemissing from the bioethics literature. Specifically, the question of whether ethicsconsultation is a profession is examined fromthe perspectives of trait theory, Wilensky''sfive-stage process of professionalization,Abbott''s interdependent system of professions,and Haug''s deprofessionalization thesis. Whilehealthcare ethics consultation does not meetthe criteria to claim professional status,neither could most professions pass these idealtheoretical standards. Instead of a yes or nodichotomous response to the question, it ismore helpful to envision a professionalizationcontinuum with sales clerks or carpenters atone end and medicine or law at the other. During the past decade healthcare ethicsconsultation has been moving along thiscontinuum toward greater professional status.|
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