Physicians have a unique societal role as professionals who are dedicated to the health and caring of others.  Their work requires the mastery of a complex body of knowledge and skills, as well as the art and humanism of medicine.  Although knowledge, skills, ethics, and communication are foundational to professionalism, principles, as statements of values are central to the definition of professionalism from the concept of clinical competence.  These principles inform physicians' behaviour. 

The physician is guided by the principles to a commitment to clinical competence, the embracing of appropriate attitudes and behaviours, integrity, altruism, personal well-being, and to the promotion of the public good within their domain.  These commitments form the basis of a social contract between a physician and society.  Society in return gran ts physicians the privilege of profession-led regulation with the understanding that they are accountable to those served.

The principles of professionalism are relevant to, and apply through, the entirety of the career of physicians as medical students, residents, and practitioners.