Mission & History


The Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) aims to set forth a vision for professionalism in the 21st century and to promote that vision through research and policy initiatives. The Institute seeks to shape a world inside and outside of medicine that is responsive to the ideals of professionalism. IMAP conducts research on the past, present, and future roles of professionalism in guiding individual behavior and collective action so that professionalism will be relevant to physicians, leaders of medical organizations, policy analysts, public officials, and consumers.

The concept of medical professionalism has evolved substantially over the recent century. In the 1960s and 1970s, many commentators equated professionalism with the preservation of guild-like monopolies whose essential purpose was to restrict entrance and protect the interests of practitioners. In the 1990s, in the aftermath of the rise of managed care, professionalism assumed a very different meaning. Both physicians and consumers invoked its principles to defend their prerogatives and to protest the restrictions on service delivery imposed by health maintenance organizations. Alert to this record, IMAP's commitment to professionalism reflects its judgment that the principles of professionalism have a vital role to play in the health care system.

IMAP recognizes that professionalism should not be the only force governing medical practice. There is clear need for formal regulation, whether through state or federal legislative and administrative bodies. Nevertheless, external intervention confronts significant barriers; law and regulation are blunt tools for governing the many intricacies in doctor-patient relationships. IMAP seeks to cultivate a commitment to professionalism that will serve as the primary motivation for physician self-regulation.



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