Professionalism in Medicine - the IMAP Agenda

The Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) aims to make professionalism a field and a force. It promotes this mission through research and policy initiatives. Four key values underlie medical professionalism. Physicians and the health care system must be committed to: altruism and promotion of patients’ best interests; effective physician self-regulation; maintenance of technical competence; and physician civic engagement to promote patient and societal well-being.  Four key values underlie our vision of medical professionalism:

  • Altruism and Commitment to Patients’ Interests. As changing market forces continue to confront the medical profession, physicians are increasingly challenged to maintain an unwavering commitment to their patients.
  • Physician Self-Regulation. Group pressures not to report a colleague or indifference to the performance of others might lead doctors to ignore a colleague’s ineptitude or malfeasance, compromising patients’ health and safety.
  • Maintenance of Technical Competence. The pace of innovation in medicine is unprecedented. Absent a commitment to life-long learning, the knowledge base of the best trained physician will soon be outmoded and fall short of best medical practice.
  • Civic Engagement. Physicians should enlarge the scope of their concerns from the well-being of the individual patient to a concern for the welfare of all patients. They must make their voices heard by communicating their knowledge to the public.

To ensure that these values will remain at the heart of the medical profession, IMAP is engaged in the following programs and initiatives:

The Challenge of Physician-Industry Relationships
Exploring the relationship of physicians to the health care industry remains a core IMAP activity. Web resources resulting from this activity include our Conflict of Interest Policy Database, our Online Curriculum and Best Practices Toolkits for managing conflicts of interest.

Survey on Medical Professionalism
IMAP has funded a series of surveys by the Mongan Institute for Health Policy (Harvard) to measure physicians’ attitudes and practices.

Making Evidence-Based Medicine Matter
IMAP, with a grant from the Selz Foundation, is addressing the issue of stewardship of health care resources from the perspective of the public/consumer.


Physician Advocacy Program
IMAP seeks to make advocacy a core value of the medical profession by developing a cadre of advocates with expertise in achieving policy change at the local, state, and national level.

Interrogation/Torture and National Security
IMAP convened a conference to explore what physicians had done and not done about the maltreatment of detainees in security detention facilities and to consider strategies for prevent future abuses.

China-US Center on Medical Professionalism 
The China-US Center supports research, conducts faculty and student seminars, and works to make the concept of professionalism relevant to medical practice in China.

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