Perils of Professionalization: Chronicling a Crisis and Renewing the Potential of Healthcare Management

  • Nathan GerardEmail author
Original Article


This paper critically examines efforts to “professionalize” the field of healthcare management and its corresponding costs. Drawing upon the scholarly critiques of professionalization in medicine and the broader field of management, this paper seeks to explore the symbolic role professionalization might play in the psyche of its constituents, and specifically its function as a defense against uncertainty and anxiety. This psychodynamic heuristic is then deployed to put forth the hypothesis that an ongoing crisis of professional identity continues to both propel and impede professionalization efforts in healthcare management, giving rise to a litany of standardization pressures that ultimately limit the field’s potential. To mitigate these pressures, the call is made for rekindling healthcare management’s moral, political, and existential aspects. Specifically, this entails engaging with the deeper themes that flow through the field: the experience of illness and what it means to suffer, the experience of life and what it means to have hope, and the experience of death and dying. It also entails squarely confronting questions of power, poverty and disease, and the pursuit of justice.


History of healthcare management Professionalization Professional identity Healthcare management education Accreditation Critical scholarship 



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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health Care AdministrationCalifornia State University, Long BeachLong BeachUSA

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