Professionalism Among Medical Practitioners: A Case Study of Rural Physicians

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Virginia Tech


In America, certain attributes and behaviors become more publicly acceptable and more prominent in personalities as an individual matures in their chosen career path. The elite position in society of medical practitioners has been threatened during the 20th Century by new and increasing market pressures. The main hypotheses addressed in this project is the determination of the directional change of the attitudes that represent professionalism as a physician gains experience in the current medical environment and whether these attitudes change as a result of rural setting or specialization in medical practice. This project will also try to determine the reliability of a Likert scale survey instrument, designed and refined through principals of organization behavior theory in the late 1960s by Richard H. Hall. Using this tool, professional attitudes were measured in an original sample of randomly selected physicians drawn from the membership of a rural medical organization and differences were examined using bivariate analyses. The additional influences of medical tenure, organizational size and discipline specialization were also analyzed using bivariate analysis to determine if life experience (tenure, location and specialty choice) positively affects core attitudes of professionalism in medical practice. Results reflect the changing market environment and population demographic changes in rural medical practice, while also demonstrating a significant difference between physicians practicing solo without the support of a group structure.



medical practice, physician, medical professional, professionalism