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Posted on October 3, 2011 at 9:33 AM

Is there a limit to how far physicians can go in their social or political activism? Ford Vox, writing in The Atlantic, suggests that perhaps there is.

Vox describes the problem like this:
“Doctors are in the cross-hairs of the nation’s politics more than ever. We’re all being asked to achieve more with less. We must cope with nightmare scenarios precipitated by cracks in the social and healthcare infrastructure so often these days that medical schools insist students become effective patient advocates as well as healers. Practicing good medicine necessitates navigating a minefield of competing interests.”

So what is a good (or any) doctor to do? AMA’s Virtual Mentor this month takes on this issue recently described as what doctors do “after hours”. I have even raised this question myself in regard to physicians using social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter.

It seems that the bounds of professionalism are being challenged by the times–political, social and technological. And no one seems to have a good answer.

But putting a cork in one’s own political or moral views because one is part of a profession? Don’t ask Steve Miles that question.

Summer Johnson McGee, PhD

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