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McMaster University
Health, Aging and Society
Elena Neiterman

Chapter 12: The Medical Profession The Profession of Medicine: -there are 3 distinct ways to think about professions and professionalization:  Professions can be considered occupations that have certain specific characteristics or traits  Professions can be viewed as the result of processes of occupational change over time  It is possible to consider the notion of the profession as ideology Profession as Occupation – The Trait Approach: -Goode (1956, 1960) thought that professions were special occupations that embodied two basic characteristics: prolonged training in a body of specialized/abstract knowledge and a service orientation -the characteristics of the medical profession in Canada today are somewhat similar to those suggested by Goode (page 294) Profession as Process: -the steps to becoming a professional in this perspective are as follows:  The members of the occupation engage in full time work  They establish a relationship with a training/education program  They establish an association  They gain legal status  They construct a code of ethics -the less accessible the knowledge is to a wide spectrum of the population, the greater the power of the professional group compared to the potential client group -3 crucial variables determine the degree of power held by a professional group:  The more esoteric the knowledge base of professional practice and the less accessible this knowledge is to the lay public, the greater the power of the profession  The greater the social distance between the client and the professional when the professional is, for instance, of a higher income level and social class than the client, the greater the power of the profession  The greater the homogeneity of the professional group in contrast with the heterogeneity of the client group, the greater the power of the profession Profession as Ideology: -an ideology is a group of descriptive and prescriptive beliefs used to explain and legitimize certain practices and viewpoints -Parsons (1951) adopted the prevailing ideology of professionals when he argued that a profession has the following characteristics: universalism, functional specificity, affective neutrality and a collectivity orientation -an effective ideology allows physicians to dominate and monopolize the field Deprofessionalization: -the ideological position of professionalism is widely challenged today in the wake of increasing costs without parallel improvements in life expectancy or health quality, mounting evidence of doctors mistakes, and growing rates of errors associated with hospitals and pharmaceuticals -an important blow to the Canadian popular belief in the altruism of the medical profession arose at the time of the 1962 doctors strike in Saskatchewan -due to this strike, some doctors have become increasingly militant to their fight for what they consider to be improved health care and health care funding -among the other threats to medical dominance is the easy availability, to millions of people around the globe, of medical information via the Internet Chapter 12: The Medical Profession A Brief History of Medical Education in North America: -refer to page 302 Medical Education in Canada Today: -the process of becoming a doctor requires 3 different types: an undergraduate education to science and/or arts, graduate study leading to the MD, and a minimum one year internship in which the graduate MD works in a hospital or clinic under the supervision of practising doctors -during the internship year, students write qualifying exams through the Medical Council of Canada, after which a licence to practice medicine is issued by any one of the provincial medical licensing bodies -many doctors continue after the internship to specialize in family practice or any of a number of different
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