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  • Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, Volume 12, Issue 2
  • April 2003, pp. 147-154

Where Is the Virtue in Professionalism?

  • DAVID J. DOUKAS (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 April 2003

There is a wind of change about to affect the training of all house officers in the United States. The Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has promulgated a set of general competencies for all U.S.-trained residents, with a major thrust focused on bioethics and professionalism that will likely catch residency directors unaware. The ACGME's General Competencies document globally addresses many relationship-based ethical roles and responsibilities of house officers in healthcare. Of note, this document contains a specific section on professionalism. However, the entire document is woven with a sustained thread of medical ethics throughout its other sections. The intent is to imbue each physician with those skills, rules, and aspects of character that will be a foundation for humane, ethical, professional conduct. Professionalism does indeed go beyond ethical principles, accounting for competency and commitment to excellence and, most of all, implying a virtue ethics account of medical practice. The need to address the central place of virtue ethics in house-staff education is apparent, and we now have the right tool for the job—the ACGME General Competencies.

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Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics
  • ISSN: 0963-1801
  • EISSN: 1469-2147
  • URL: /core/journals/cambridge-quarterly-of-healthcare-ethics
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