The Surgeon as a Professional: Changes and Challenges over Time

Christopher H. Noda, Doug Brown, Piroska K. Kopar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: In this article, we seek to use a case-study discussion of a woman seeking treatment guidance for an elective, complex surgical ailment to discuss how professionalism has changed within the past century and where it may be headed with specific regard for the medical profession and surgeons. Background: Traditionally, professionals were those who possessed a certain knowledge base, committed to an ╗altruistic mission through serving the general populace while adhering to certain performance standards that were established by other members of the field. In the 20th century, we saw certain abuses from those who held positions of power within medicine including the Tuskegee Syphilis and Nuremberg trials calling into question the trust the public has placed within professional actors. With many competing opinions and forces shaping the medical profession, including the prominent dissemination of health care information making access to both true and misinformation more rampant than ever before, discussion about the evolving nature of the medical profession is important. Methods/Results: We conducted a literature review to investigate the historical context of the physician-patient relationship with regard for the surgeon. Our work suggests that the core structure of a professional is a foundation rooted in moral excellence that merits trust from the client. In medicine, further efforts at healing from prior abuses necessitates an emphasis on ethical principles, as well as communicating this commitment not only to the patient but also to the society at large. We emphasize the importance of these changes through a case-based discussion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-183
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2023


  • case study
  • physician-patient relationship
  • professional
  • professionalism
  • rectal prolapse
  • surgical ethics
  • surgical history
  • trust


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