Physician, Heal Thyself: Doctors in a Pluralist Democracy

Forces internal and external to medicine have combined to place enormous pressures and burdens on today’s physicians, and the status of medicine as a profession has eroded enormously. This has destabilized the body politic, since vibrant and independent professions are one of the pillars of a modern, pluralistic, representative democracy. The restoration of a sense of professionalism will therefore be required as a first corrective step and this, in turn, will require changes in the attitudes and practices of physicians, organized medical societies, government, private industries supporting the health care enterprise, and the public at large. With such changes in place, the conditions will be set for understanding the role of physicians as citizen members of a public profession and exercising that citizenship within the profession, toward the public at large, and within the political arena of a pluralistic, representative democracy.

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