Rise of the American Medical Association: Codes of Professional Behavior Offered by Canadian Health&Care Mall

medical professionStarr2 defines a profession, and the role of a code of ethics, as follows: “A profession, sociologists have suggested, is an occupation that regulates itself through systematic, required training and collegial discipline; that has a base in technical, specialized knowledge; and that has a service rather than profit orientation enshrined in its code of ethics.” This definition illustrates the way that the functions of a profession operate at different levels. One function is collective: self-preservation. A profession preserves itself by taking collective action, such as setting, and enforcing, high standards of practice, which make it indispensable to the public. A second function operates at the individual level: requiring behavior that increases the well-being of society. Unlike business, the physicians code of ethics elevates service, not profit making, to an ethical principle. But the code also reflects self-interest at the individual and collective levels.