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Medical educators are charged with the task of educating students in medical professionalism. This task poses a number of questions. The most fundamental of these is what is meant by medical professionalism in the 21st century? This is closely followed by the two questions, how should we teach this? and how should we assess our students? As medical educators involved in the medical humanities, we clearly have another question to consider: how can the medical humanities contribute to this task?
During the second half of the 20th century and the early years of this century, many things changed in the relationship between doctors and society in the developed world. A large number of effective therapeutic interventions have been developed. This, together with an ageing population with an increasing burden of chronic health problems, has resulted in competing …