Professionalism is both a commitment and a skill — a competency — that we practice over a lifetime.
— David H. Chestnut, MD
IN HIS EXCELLENT ESSAY “On the Road to Professionalism,” published in the journal Anesthesiology in 2017, Dr. David Chestnut reminds us that professionalism in medicine does not just happen. Schools, residencies and certification boards are required to teach, and to confirm, adequate levels of professionalism — though there are no rigid definitions for them. Medical regulators are charged with reaffirming or denying professional behavior on occasion. Students who choose medical careers go through the rigors of medical school and residencies, then enter practice — modeling the behaviors of individuals they respect — before entering a specialty and connecting with yet more people whose influence helps shape their professional identity. The point is that our capacity for professionalism evolves over time and is shaped by many factors — including, importantly, the encounters we have with our peers and patients. And, as Dr. Chestnut aptly observes, professionalism is actually a skill — which grows and thrives only in relation to our level of commitment to it…In this issue of JMR, we present several offerings that expand on these ideas and other themes related to professionalism. The first is an essay from authors in the UK who investigated the factors that most influence the shaping of our professional identities — including the influence of medical regulators. The second is a special section for our readers that includes the full text of the FSMB's recently adopted policy on physician sexual misconduct and an overview by the chair of the workgroup that developed the policy. The FSMB's new policy addresses an issue that has in recent years received more public scrutiny and concern than ever before. Third, we offer a summary from the Oregon Medical Board of its new Oregon Wellness Program, which helps physicians avoid professional impairment caused by burnout and other factors. The Oregon program provides a model that addresses issues “upstream,” before they lead to intervention from medical regulators…Professionalism and professional identity start deep within each of us, and by carefully considering and shaping our deepest values we ultimately create the conditions for our daily workplace behavior. We hope you enjoy this issue of JMR.