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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Herbert M. Swick, MD (Institute of Medicine and Humanities)
Description: This articulate book analyzes the nature of professional practice and judgement.
Purpose: The editors hope "to help professionals think about their own practice" and better understand it, an especially important goal in today's turbulent health care environment where a clash frequently exists between professional and market values.
Audience: Although the book targets a wide audience, ranging from health care students through new and experienced practitioners to health profession teachers, it will be of most use to experienced professionals and to teachers.
Features: It comprises four sections. The first explores the nature of professional practice, sharply outlining the contrast between a technical rational model and a professional artistry model. The second section consists of six separate critical incident case studies, written by practicing health care professionals. The third section reflects on the knowledge gained from these case studies, while the fourth expands into more general conclusions about how professional judgement can be developed and nurtured.
Assessment: This important book will help health care professionals confront the conflicts and conundrums they face, when their professional role is challenged by a market-driven managed care system. The editors conclude that "there is a very real basis to professional expertise that professionals can (and should) get nearer to the bottom of in order to counter the tendency for both the public and professionals to be seduced by the idea that technology and business are a paradigm of all useful human activity." To lose sight of fundamental professional principles is to lose professionalism. The editors make the cogent argument that loss of trust in professionals "has been nurtured by the prevailing climate of technical rationalism which demystifies professionalism, but which leaves nothing in its place." A reflective reading of this book can help health care providers better understand the complex nature of professional practice and professional judgement.