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Readers of this journal will occasionally reflect on what it means to be a health professional; how does what we do compare with what other non-health professionals do, how are we perceived by the public (our patients) and how do our beliefs about professionalism adapt (or don’t) to cultural and legislative changes in our society.
The reference point from which we start when contemplating these practical but sometimes abstract, even metaphysical, ideas derives from numerous sources. Professional registration bodies, such as the General Medical Council, the institutions that trained us in the basics of our trades and the postgraduate colleges, all help define, nurture and inculcate professional concepts in both our formative and mature years. On top of these foundations, we absorb, almost by osmosis, the behaviour we witness in influential role models, be they wise or unwise clinical elders, bosses or peers. Other influences include our parents, teachers from our school years, the outpourings of the entertainment and media industries and last, but certainly not least, the patients we treat.
If we are lucky …
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