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Professionalism: A Key to Weathering the Storm

Swick, Herbert M. MD

Obstetrics & Gynecology:
Current Commentary

The President's Program at the 2000 Annual Clinical Meeting of ACOG addressed the question of how best to maintain professional values in the current, market‐driven health care environment. The author's presentation during that presidential program provided the basis of this article. In today's corporate environment, the distinction between the practice of medicine and the business of medicine has become blurred. Too often, market values prevail over traditional professional values. As a consequence, physicians face increasing challenges and frustrations. To ease the discomfort of practicing in a new corporate age, physicians must maintain medical professionalism and hence reassert the primacy of professional values in caring for patients. Individually, physicians must exercise professionalism in their roles as educators and practitioners. Collectively, the profession of medicine must exercise professionalism by advocating patients' interests and by accepting accountability for both long‐established and emerging obligations that physicians have to their patients and to society.

In Brief

Maintaining professionalism and the traditional values of medicine can help physicians–individually and collectively–deal with the challenges of practice in today's corporate environment.

Author Information

Institute of Medicine and Humanities, Missoula, Montana

Address reprint requests to: Herbert M. Swick, MD, Institute of Medicine and Humanities, PO Box 4587, Missoula, MT 59806; E‐mail:

Presented during the President's Program, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Annual Clinical Meeting, San Francisco, California, May 22, 2000.

Received July 24, 2000. Received in revised form November 6, 2000. Accepted November 12, 2000.

© 2001 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists