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Keywords:

  • global health;
  • internationalization;
  • medical practice;
  • medical education;
  • professionalism;
  • society;
  • social accountability;
  • healthcare

Abstract

Medical care is deficient in many parts of the world, while in richer countries the costs and complexities of health care are rising unsustainably. Thus, societies need to understand what it is that only doctors can do and what can or should be done by other members of the healthcare team. The duty of doctors to examine their accountability to society as a whole is critical, in order not to continue blindly to do what has always been done. We argue that doctors may not need, in the future to undertake all their traditional roles, while other new roles may emerge instead. A synthesis of these elements is necessary to propose a policy and philosophy for the future global role of the doctor. Only when we have defined this, is the stage set for medical education to produce a person equipped to fulfill that role.