Moving Beyond Nostalgia and Motives: Towards a Complexity Science View of Medical Professionalism

Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 51 (4):599-615 (2008)
Abstract
Modern-day discourse on medical professionalism has largely been dominated by a "nostalgic" view, emphasizing individual motives and behaviors. Shaped by a defining conflict between commercialism and professionalism, this discourse has unfolded through a series of waves, the first four of which are discovery, definition, assessment, and institutionalization. They have unfolded in a series of highly interactive and overlapping sequences that extend into the present. The fifth wave-linking structure and agency-which is nascent, proposes to shift our focus on professionalism from changing individuals to modifying the underlying structural and environmental forces that shape social actors and actions. The sixth wave-complexity science-is more incubatory in nature and seeks to recast social actors, social structures, and environmental factors as interactive, adaptive, and interdependent. Moving towards such a framing is necessary if medicine is to effectively reestablish professionalism as a core principle
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