Professionalism in anaesthesiology practice: ethical reflection on the nature of professionalism in anaesthesiology

  • Malcolm De Roubaix University of Stellenbosch
Keywords: professionalism, anaesthetic practice, professional duty, ethics of responsibility, virtue ethics, Aristotle


Anaesthesiologists are well trained and equipped to practise a high standard of care and contribute significantly to positive perioperative outcomes. Professionalism is characterised first by expertise in the clinical skills, capabilities, knowledge and experience internal to the practice of anaesthesiology (or a sub-specialty), and the knowledge, understanding and practice of the professional duties associated with anaesthesiology. Relatively recently it has been realised that more than good training and clinical expertise are required if anaesthesiologists want to practise as true professionals. This requirement relates to personal behaviour and attitudes that can loosely be labelled as moral attributes. The article argues that these moral attributes may best be understood with reference to Aristotle’s notion of virtue ethics—the idea that character and virtue are important in ethics. Though this is the central theme of the article, a more comprehensive picture is provided of what it means to be a professional. (Full text available online at South Afr J Anaesth Analg 2017; DOI: 10.1080/22201181.2017.1349412

Author Biography

Malcolm De Roubaix, University of Stellenbosch
Department of Philosophy Centre for Applied Ethics University of Stellenbosch
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