I enjoyed the thought-provoking letter by psychiatrist Dr Quan on professionalism (BCMJ 2014;56:83). This concept has been highlighted by Doctors of BC during the past few years with the aim of keeping it foremost on our minds. Dr Quan seems to bemoan the generational shift and touches on the complexity of modern medicine. He is right to identify the impact of trying to achieve life-work balance and the related stressors, having the freedom to choose from a greater variety of practice styles and commitments, and having a variety of quick-medicine clinics (private vs public) to choose from. He ends by commenting on the unfortunate situation BC residents face—having to train overseas to complete their aspirations for a medical career and being unable to return to Canada to practise.
Professionalism is a noble concept but, like all creeds, has to change with the times. In the 21st century, with proliferating technology pulling us away from true hands-on medicine, I still look around to see professionalism in most practising physicians. As a profession, we should be able to acknowledge and respect proper and ethical standards on an ongoing basis. As for passing such beliefs on to the newer generations, we need to continue to instill hope for good standards. I am confident that professionalism will be passed on, but perhaps not exactly the same way as in the good old days.
—John de Couto, MD
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