Medical Professionalism

& The Physician Charter

What is Medical Professionalism?

Medical Professionalism is the daily expression of a physician’s desire to help people and society as a whole by providing quality health care to those in need. It requires:

  • placing the interests of patients first
  • setting and maintaining standards of competence and integrity
  • providing expert advice to society on matters of health

Today’s definition of medical professionalism is evolving – from autonomy to accountability, from expert opinion to evidence-based medicine, from self-interest to teamwork and shared responsibility. For many, medical professionalism is the “heart and soul of medicine.”

Physicians today experience profound obstacles to fulfilling the ideals of medical professionalism in practice. These obstacles range from struggles faced on an individual level to issues that exist throughout the system.

This website, and our work, is dedicated to exploring how physician leaders, health care organizations and public policy can foster medical professionalism and intrinsic motivation at all levels as a means to improve health care for everyone.

The Physician Charter

In 2002, the ABIM Foundation, in conjunction with the ACP Foundation and the European Federation of Internal Medicine, authored Medical Professionalism in the New Millennium: A Physician Charter. This seminal document has since been endorsed by more than 130 organizations and over 100,000 copies  have been distributed.

The fundamental principles of the Charter are the primacy of patient welfare, patient autonomy and social justice. The Charter also articulates the professional commitments of physicians and health care professionals in the modern era, which include:

  • Professional competence
  • Honesty with patients
  • Patient confidentiality
  • Maintaining appropriate relations with patients
  • Improving quality of care
  • Improving access to care
  • Just distribution of finite resources
  • Scientific knowledge
  • Maintaining trust by managing conflicts of interest
  • Professional responsibilities



Read the Charter


Endorsements of the Charter

The Charter has been endorsed by the following national and international organizations:

Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education
Administrators of Internal Medicine
Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
American Academy of Dermatology
American Academy of Emergency Medicine
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Neurology
American Academy of Ophthalmology
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
American Board of Allergy and Immunology
American Board of Anesthesiology
American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery
American Board of Dermatology
American Board of Emergency Medicine
American Board of Family Medicine
American Board of Internal Medicine
American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics
American Board of Medical Specialties
American Board of Neurological Surgery
American Board of Nuclear Medicine
American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology
American Board of Ophthalmology
American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
American Board of Otolaryngology
American Board of Pathology
American Board of Pediatrics
American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
American Board of Plastic Surgery
American Board of Preventive Medicine
American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
American Board of Radiology
American Board of Surgery
American Board of Thoracic Surgery
American Board of Urology
ACP Foundation
American College of Cardiology
American College of Dentists
American College of Medical Genetics
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American College of Physicians
American College of Radiology
American College of Surgeons
American Medical Association
American Orthopaedic Association
American Osteopathic Association
American Psychiatric Association
American Society of Anesthesiologists
American Society for Clinical Pathology
American Society of Nephrology
American Society of Plastic Surgeons

American Urological Association
Association of Academic Physiatrists
Association of American Medical Colleges
Association of Physicians of Great Britain and Ireland
Association of Physicians of Malta
Association of Professors of Medicine
Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine
Association of Specialty Professors
Austrian Society of Internal Medicine
Belgian Society of Internal Medicine
Chinese Medical Doctors Association
Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine
College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia
Council of Deans, Association of Canadian Medical Colleges
Council of Medical Specialty Societies
Czech Society of Internal Medicine
Danish Society of Internal Medicine
Estonian Society of Internal Medicine
Federation of Royal Colleges of Physicians of United Kingdom
Federation of State Medical Boards
Finnish Society of Internal Medicine
French Society of Internal Medicine
German Network for Evidence-Based Medicine
German Society of Internal Medicine
Hellenic Society of Internal Medicine
Hungarian Society of Internal Medicine
Israeli Society of Internal Medicine
Italian Society of Internal Medicine
Latvian Society of Internal Medicine
Lithuanian Society of Internal Medicine
Luxembourg Society of Internal Medicine
Medical Council of Canada
Ministero della Salute
National Physicians Alliance
Netherlands Society of Internal Medicine
Polish Society of Internal Medicine
Portuguese Society of Internal Medicine
Radiological Society of North America
Residency Review Committee for Internal Medicine
Royal Australasian College of Physicians and Surgeons
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
Royal College of Physicians of Ireland
Royal College of Physicians of London
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
Slovak Society of Internal Medicine
Slovenian Society of Internal Medicine
Society of Neurological Surgeons
Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
Society of Thoracic Surgeons
Spanish Society of Internal Medicine
Swedish Society of Internal Medicine
Swiss Society of Internal Medicine
Turkish Society of Internal Medicine