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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Medical Profession Through History

Creative Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 4.0 license

Throughout history, doctors have distinguished themselves among healthcare providers by referencing special skills and accredited knowledge about the body and disease. Over centuries, increased rigor in educational standards and licensing have crafted the professional identity of physicians, establishing a privileged status in the healthcare hierarchy. This essay provides an overview of how the medical profession has defined itself over time, and it examines how policing professional boundaries has discriminated against and marginalized competitors in the marketplace for medical services.

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