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The Development of Professionalism in the Allied Health Field

William K. Selden, LittD, LLD
JAMA. 1968;206(7):1545-1547. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03150070083015.
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A century and a half ago, Dr. Syntax, the character created by the English author, William Combe, declared in rhyme that "The learned professions, all agree,/Are physic, law and divinity."

Although this fictional, reverend doctor stated preferences for the three leading professions, he was not sufficiently bold to identify which of these three he considered to be the most important.

Nor will I attempt to prove that one profession is more important than another. However, accepting the contention that medicine, law, and theology are the ancient and learned professions, I wish to indicate that medicine presently has opportunities and, in fact, social obligations that involve some features considered to be the prerogatives of the other two professions. These opportunities have been enhanced by the development of professionalism in the allied health field.

We all know that medicine is defined in the dictionary as "the science and art of diagnosing, treating,


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