Academic Medicine and Medical Professionalism: A Legacy and a Portal Into an Evolving Field of Educational Scholarship

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In this Invited Commentary, the author examines two curated Academic Medicine volumes showcasing foundational research and key writings on professionalism in medicine and medical education, collectively spanning from 1994 to 2016. The author reviews the beginnings of the medical professionalism movement and examines how the trends and themes reflected in the first volume—specifically the work to define, assess, and institutionalize professionalism—capture key elements in this movement. He then examines how the trends and themes in the second volume align with and build on those from the first, noting two themes that extend across a number of second volume articles: a unit-of-analysis issue and the challenge of context. The author identifies several topics that have yet to be adequately mined and calls attention to two bridge-spanning articles in the second volume that, respectively, take us into the future (around the topic of identify formation) and back to the past (on the hidden curriculum). Finally, the author reflects on “directions home” in medicine’s noble search for its moral core and collective identity.

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