Professional | Medical Council of Canada
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Physicians play a unique societal role as professionals, requiring a mastery of knowledge, skills and behaviours dedicated to the health of individuals, communities, and society. A physician’s identity is central to this role. Physicians are accountable to themselves, their patients and families, their colleagues, and society. In turn, society grants physicians the privilege of professionally led regulation.a


The professional role reflects society’s expectations of physicians, which includes clinical competence, a commitment to ongoing professional development and personal health and well-being, promotion of the public good, adherence to ethical standards, demonstration of the attributes of integrity, compassion, dedication, accountability, honesty, altruism, humility, respect, and transparency.


  1. Accountability to patients and their families
    1. Provide care that meets or exceeds expected standards of competence
    2. Ensure continuity of care
    3. Maintain patient confidentiality
    4. Describe and implement current ethical and legal aspects of patient care
    5. Recognise and manage conflicts of interest
    6. Exhibit professional behaviours in the use of technology-enabled communication
    7. Describe the organization of practice
  2. Accountability to physician health and well-being for provision of optimal patient care
    1. Maintain competence
      1. Evaluate personal professional competence
      2. Recognise personal limitations of competence
      3. Pursue ongoing personal education to maintain competence
    2. Manage influences on personal well-being that may affect professional performance
    3. Manage personal and professional demands to ensure sustainable practice
    4. Promote a culture that recognises, responds to, and supports colleagues in need
  3. Accountability to the profession
    1. Abide by the profession’s rules, regulations, and ethical codes
    2. Assume responsibility for one’s own actions and model high standards of professional behaviour at all times
    3. Recognise and respond to unprofessional and unethical behaviours in physicians and other health professional colleagues
    4. Participate in peer assessment, teaching, and standard setting
    5. Maintain confidentiality of professional documents (e.g., test materials, student evaluations)
  4. Accountability to society
    1. Respond to societal expectations of physicians
    2. Demonstrate a commitment to patient safety and quality improvement
  5. Integrity
    1. Behave according to the highest standards of integrity, including ethical conduct, honesty, compassion, and dedication to the welfare of patients and society
    2. Observe appropriate and/or legal boundaries in relationships with patients and health professionals
    3. Avoid abuse of privilege
  6. Altruism
    1. Put the needs of others before one’s own as the foundation of professional behaviour
    2. Serve, when necessary, beyond normal duty or expectations, keeping in mind essential personal/professional balance


aCruess, S. R., Johnston, S., & Cruess, R. L. (2004). “Profession”: A working definition for medical educators. Teaching and Learning in Medicine,16(1), 74–76.

Source: Adapted from “CanMEDS 2015 Physician Competency Framework” by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, 2015. ( )