Ethical Sensitivity and the Goals of Medicine: Resisting the Tides of Medical Deprofessionalisation

JJ Chin
Submitted: December, 2001

There is a growing concern that, like in many developed countries, medical practice in Singapore is fast losing its role and status as a profession. The commodification and industrialisation of health care, and weakening of its ethical foundations are among the main forces threatening to deprofessionalise the practice of medicine. To overcome these challenges, an honest and introspective review of the goals of medicine and an affirmation of the ethical values of medicine are needed in order to reinstate the unique role of medicine in our society. Important steps to take include adopting a patient-centered philosophy and practice culture, promoting and emphasising ethical awareness and sensitivity among physicians, and active participation in constructive dialogues to negotiate the social contract of the profession. A more permanent impact may be achieved through cultivation of medical virtues in physicians, and the integration of core elements of medical professionalism into the ethical systems and mission statement of today’s health care organisations.

  • Professionalism