Those of us who have practiced surgery for the last 40 years or so have witnessed a remarkable transformation of our profession. In the early years, we were highly respected, we had almost unequivocal authority, could choose at random our sub-speciality interest and had a substantial control over the amounts and means of our remuneration. Most surgeons loved their work and gave of their time willingly and generously.
We had great professional satisfaction and much respect from the public.
Over the last three decades, much has changed; decision-making power has shifted from clinicians to management and administrators. Costs, not quality, are the dominant theme in medical practice. Surgeons now feel disenfranchised, frustrated and powerless. They feel they have lost control of their working conditions and more importantly have lost the public’s confidence. They now practice under a cloud of fear; fear from litigation, fear from managers and fear from the regulator. Not surprisingly, there is now much talk of the loss of professionalism. But what does this mean?
This article discusses professionalism and asks the questions “does surgery as a profession have a future”?