From professionalism to commercialism in healthcare: a phenomenological study

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Date: Feb. 28, 2021
From: Journal of Pakistan Medical Association(Vol. 71, Issue 2)
Publisher: Knowledge Bylanes
Document Type: Report
Length: 2,838 words
Lexile Measure: 1580L

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Byline: Muhammad Hanif Malik and Usman Mahboob

Keywords: Doctor, Professionalism, Altruism, Public and private sectors, Dual job, Medical education.


Professionalism is derived from the verb 'to profess', which also means 'to promise'. The promise suggested by 'to profess' is both public and collective in nature. In healthcare context, this is clearly declared in the Hippocratic Oath to the entire mankind that interests of the patients will remain foremost; the doctors shall maintain their trustworthiness through any stresses and crises; and shall not be led astray by any temptations or fear. In return, the patients will trust the doctors, including those they have never met before.1

Human beings happen to be the finest creatures on the face of earth: ..."We create man in the finest state".2 Respectability conferred upon doctors lays in the public's trust upon the commitment of the former to keep interests of the latter foremost and ahead of their own. Based on this trust, patients give honest and exhaustive medical history followed by their bodies to be examined and probed in privacy as without the information thus gained, the practitioners will not be able to complete their tasks. In reciprocation of this trust, doctors give top priority to the care of sick humans. Gradual intrusion of commercialism in healthcare has generally transformed this traditional doctor-patient relationship of care and trust to that of cost and benefit.3

We are living in a world where human inter-relationships are business arrangements and healthcare professionals are not independently wealthy. Someone must pay their rent and keep the wheels rolling, but healthcare profession can never be viewed primarily as a business.4

The professionals are surely not required to ignore financial considerations, but they are expected to subordinate such considerations to the higher values of their responsibilities towards patients and public interests. Recent gradual intrusion of commercialism into the realm of medicine is causing breach of trust and the public is losing faith in doctors.5 Unfortunately, healthcare practitioners and students are equally immersed in an ocean where every aspect of human life is viewed from marketplace perspective. Hence, it is generally perceived by the public that doctors with dual jobs appear more altruistic in their private practice than in a public setup.6

Any resuscitative measures in this regards are likely to fail unless an insight into the perceptions of the practitioners themselves is gained. Results of a critical review of literature upon the practice of dual jobs, its problems and resuscitative suggestions of the practitioners concerned about practices of professionalism in the two sectors revealed a clear paucity of analytical qualitative studies.7 The current study was planned to explore the perceptions of doctors holding dual jobs regarding professionalism in public and private healthcare sectors.

Subjects and Methods

The qualitative phenomenological study8 was conducted from January to June 2016 in a tertiary care teaching hospital affiliated with the Sheikh Zayed Medical College(SZMC), Rahim Yar Khan, Pakistan. After obtaining approval from the institutional ethics review board, the sample was raised using purposive sampling technique from...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A654226271