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News Bulletin : ADA News Bulletin November 2010
37 NOVEMBER 2010 had as their founding raison d'être the necessity to educate the clergy. Accordingly, appointees to academic positions in most medieval universities were men in holy orders. Cheetham and Chivers (2005) maintain that prior to the mid-eighteenth century, the classic professions were considered to be law, medicine, divinity, architecture, commissioned service in the armed forces and teaching. Historically, the professions were characterized by training and testing of applicants by those already in the profession, usually after a period of apprenticeship. In this they did not differ much from the craft guilds, which are examples of human beings' seemingly intrinsic desire to organize themselves into bodies of belonging in order to exert power over the tools of a trade, including its specialized knowledge, and to project strength through numbers into society. This appears to be universal, as there were guild-like organizations not only in England and Europe but in India and the Middle East as well, and today's professional associations share some characteristics with these bodies from medieval times. The word 'guild' derives from an Old English word meaning 'payment' or 'tribute' -- pliers of the craft or trade paid dues to the organization for the privilege of belonging to it. Guilds used these dues to promote trade, to increase industrial power, to safeguard the body of knowledge and skills possessed by members, and to control markets. They also used the dues as a kind of insurance and pooled resource of mutual aid for members who were disabled and could not work. Dues, moreover, enabled guilds to serve as burial societies and, therein, both to pay for masses for the souls of deceased members and to provide for the widows and children of the deceased. Every kind of business, from the butcher to the baker to the candlestick maker, had its own guild. Guilds guaranteed that their members knew their trades well enough to produce quality goods and services by overseeing training -- thus, they served society. Mostly, however, they served the guild members by guaranteeing a certain amount of autonomy within the job role and discouraging competition from others plying the same trade outside of the guild. In that guilds helped control prices, regulated hours worked and protected the financial interests of members when losses were incurred, they resembled today's trade unions. They exerted great influence in society. By the latter half of the eleventh century, guilds were so powerful as to be present in every village and often congruent with municipal authority. In fact, mayors, aldermen and burghers of towns and villages emerged from guild tiers of leadership (Burton & Marique, 1910). Craft and trade guilds bore some of the earmarks of professionalism. Guilds took responsibility for the punishment or banning of members who were dishonest in their dealings. They also oversaw training and certifying of apprentices. When a boy was finished with his apprenticeship, he became an employee of his master teacher and, in time, was called upon to produce a 'masterpiece' to demonstrate his skill in his craft. Then he could become a master himself and set up his own shop, being granted autonomy by the guild. Conferring mastery or status within society, being organized into a body by occupation, requiring prolonged and specialized training and education, offering autonomy within job roles, having collective influence within society and being self-regulatory -- all characteristics of the guilds -- are some of the hallmarks of professionalism. These early bodies inform aspects of the behaviour of today's professional associations (or 'bodies,' as they are known in parts of the world). What, then, if anything, distinguishes a profession from, say, a trade or craft? Or are they one and the same? Is a profession simply a body of specialized knowledge, which associations and institutions satisfactorily impart to aspirants and then give them a certificate or degree to prove that they have it? Being an electrician, which now takes several years of specialized training in modern-day apprenticeship programs and requires certification by recognized regulatory bodies, might be a profession by that definition. Is it? If not, what distinguishing features constitute professionalism? Is it indefinable? Is Andrew Abbott (1988, p. 318) right in saying that "a firm definition of profession is both unnecessary and dangerous," and is his loose definition "professions are somewhat exclusive groups of individuals applying somewhat abstract knowledge to particular cases" really enough, as he claims it is? Drawing upon Carr-Saunders and the works of others who have studied the topic, Cheetham and Chivers (2005, p. 20) compiled a list of a profession's characteristics, while admitting that the list was neither exhaustive nor definitive of all professions. However, it is useful. A profession, they say: • confers status within society; • organizes itself into some sort of professional body; • is learned -- i.e., requires prolonged and specialized training and education; • is altruistic (orientated towards service rather than profit); • offers autonomy within the job role; • is informed by an ethical code of some kind; • is non-commercial; • has collective influence within society; • is self-regulatory; • is collegial; • is client-focused. CRICOS: 00116K ZO011324 Melbourne Dental School Excellent opportunity to specialise in Prosthodontics Enter an exciting new phase of your dental career and be taught by leaders in the profession. We have one remaining place available in the Doctor of Clinical Dentistry for someone wishing to specialise in Prosthodontics. We are seeking someone who meets the selection criteria and is able to start the course on 31 January 2010. 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ADA News Bulletin October 2010
ADA News Bulletin December 2010