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Priorities for professionalism: what do surgeons think?

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Professionalism underpins the commitment made between a profession and society. This social contract balances the benefit to a profession of a monopoly over the use of its knowledge base, its right to considerable autonomy of practice, and the privilege of self-regulation with responsibilities and accountabilities to the community.

Medical practitioners have embraced professionalism over the millennia, from the Hippocratic Oath1 to the 19th century2 and the present day. Professionalism has recently been highlighted,3 but there have been concerns that not all its components are viewed as important4,5 or are reflected appropriately in surgical training endeavours.6

Definitions of professionalism are abundant, contested and reflect educational, sociocultural and historical contexts.7,8 Core elements include mastery of a complex body of knowledge and skills, service to others, commitment to competence, integrity, altruism and promotion of public good, autonomy, self-regulation and accountability to society.9 Given the dynamic and changing context, it is important to understand how professionalism…