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Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences
The article considers the various approaches that sociologists have to studying the professional altruism among doctors. Furthermore, it compares sociologists’ insights to how the doctors themselves, as well as their patients across Russia, see professionalism. Altruism may not be a quality that comes naturally to each individual doctor, but it is a necessary requirement for the profession overall. Functional psychology believed that professions that require intellectual labor are sustainable, efficient, and apolitical institutions of modern society. The profession of a doctor was seen as the embodiment of the most important values of social ethics. Critics of the approach, however, have cast doubt upon the concept of doctors serving society altruistically. They are citing the cases of corruption among certain members of the doctor’s profession, as well as examples of medical practice that does not comply with the official license or is aimed at gaining a profit. Nevertheless, the studies of social attitudes among Russian doctors show that many of them still consider serving society unconditionally, out of altruism, to be important. According to interviews with experts representing the medical community, Russian doctors are focused on doing their job well far more than on economic benefits. They consider the quality of their work to be more important than any quantitative figures. That said, the altruistic ideology permeating these interviews cannot be taken at face value as an accurate representation of how the situation is perceived by the general populace. We would even venture so far as to say that the experts’ high praise of their colleagues’ professionalism is rather exaggerated. As much as one half of Russian respondents believe that their doctors have low qualifications and poor professional knowledge. Even more respondents are certain that the majority of Russian doctors treat their patients negligently and indifferently. And it is the healthcare service consumers’ opinion on medical professionals that is the key indicator of how much this professional group actually lives up to its self-proclaimed idea of selfless service. It is fairly likely that Russian doctors describe their professional expertise so unrealistically because they are attempting to retain a positive public image of their profession, despite its low social and economic status and limited autonomy.
professional altruism, MD, functionalism, neo-Marxism,neoveberianstvo
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