Trust me – I’m a Doctor




obedience, compasses


A professional has a job that needs a high level of education and training, and who acts in a manner that conforms to the technical and ethical standards of their profession. They are also expected to adhere to a specific set of duties known as professional ethics and
competencies. Many duties are common to most professions such as honesty, integrity, transparency, accountability, objectivity, respectfulness and obedience to the law. In medicine and dentistry there are additional duties related to all aspects of patient care and workplace interactions. In this paper the duties of a doctor will be discussed under the categories of legal duties, business-related
duties, professional duties, clinical duties, educational duties, the duty to work, and moral / ethical duties. While it is recognised that practitioners have a right to practice their trade as a result of their professional education and training, they are also obligated to behave in a manner that will uphold the reputation of their discipline. At the same time, patients have the right to expect and to receive the best possible care but need to also take care of their own health and follow the advice given to them by their doctors.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biographies

Leanne Sykes, Head of Department of Prosthodontics, University of Pretoria.

Lebogang Matshego, Department of Prosthodontics, University of Pretoria


Cambridge English Dictionary. “professionalism”. Accessed at: Accessed on: 29-09-2022

Merriam-Webster. “Professional” Accessed at: Accessed on 29-09-2022

Kun L. "Professional responsibility: politics, culture, and religion versus science and technology". IEEE Open Journal of Engineering in Medicine and Biology. 2008: 27 (3): 95–99 doi:10.1109/MEMB.2008.918695. ISSN 0739-5175 – via JSTOR.

Solbrekke TD & Englund T. "Bringing professional responsibility back in". Studies in Higher Education. 2011 36 (7): 847 – 861 doi:10.1080/03075079.2010.482205. ISSN 0307-5079

Demuijnck G & Murphy P. "Retail Practitioners' Views vs. Ideal Theoretical Positions Concerning Ethical Business Practices with Garment Suppliers". Business and Professional Ethics Journal. 2022: 41 (1): 59–92 doi:10.5840/bpej20211230114. ISSN 0277-2027

Canney NE & Bielefeldt AR. Validity and Reliability evidence of the Engineering Responsibility assessment tool. J of Engineering Education. 2016 105 (3) 452-477

Lindgren J, Carlbaum S, Hult A, Segerholm C. "Professional responsibility and accountability?: Balancing institutional logics in the enactment of new regulations and practices against bullying and degrading treatment in Swedish schools". Nordic Studies in Education. 2018: 38 (04): 368–385

Pope St John XXIII. From Rights to Responsibilities. The Catholic Link. 2022.

Ignorance of the law is no defence. Legal Studies. 1983: Vol 3 (2) 174-192 Accessed at:; Accessed on 29-09-2022

National Health Act of the republic of South Africa. 2004. Pretoria Government Printers

Health Professions Council of South Africa. Rule 26 of the Council’s Ethical and Professional Rules. Accessed at:; Accessed on 29-09-2022

Health Professions Council of South Africa. Guidelines on keeping of patient records. Booklet 14. Accessed at:; Accessed on 29-09-2022

General Dental Council of the UK. Advice for dental professionals on raising concerns. Accessed at: www.gdg-uk.org2016. Accessed on: 08-11-2016

General Dental Council of the UK. Guidelines on using social media. Accessed at: Accessed on: 08-11-2016

Dental Protection. Safe communication. Accessed at: Accessed on: 10-11-2016

Medical Protection Organization. Are you media Savvy? Accessed at:; 2014. Accessed on 15-09-2017

Sykes LM, Harryparsad A, Evans WG. Ethical, legal and professional concerns with the use of internet sites by health-care professionals. SADJ. 2016: 72 (3); 132-137

The Hippocratic Oath. Accessed at:; Accessed on: 29-09-2022

Beauchamp TL & Childress JF. Principles of Biomedical Ethics. 2001. New York; Oxford University Press

Health Professions Council of South Africa. Guidelines for Good Practice in the Health-Care profession. Booklet 2. Accessed at:; Accessed on 29-09-2022.572 ETHICS > / SADJ Vol. 77 No. 9

LM Sykes, Z Vally, WG Evans. Practicing beyond your expertise. Part 10. Who’s to blame, who’s to name? SADJ June 2017:72 (5) 230 -233

LM Sykes, GP Babiolakis, B Evans. Is it better to Be good or to Do good? SADJ, 2021: 4,

Jin, K. Gregory D, Ronald G. "Relationships among Perceived Organizational Core Values, Corporate Social Responsibility, Ethics, and Organizational Performance Outcomes: An Empirical Study of Information Technology Professionals". Journal of Business Ethics. 2010: 92 (3): 341–359 doi:10.1007/s10551-009-0158-1. ISSN 0167-4544.

"The Physician's Responsibility: An Important Decision on Professional Secrecy". JAMA. 2020: 324 (16): 1685 doi:10.1001/jama.2019.13675. ISSN 0098-7484

Sykes LM & Marais K. Constructing the consultation chair, balancing the four E-legs. SADJ 2020, 75 (1)582

- p585

Barnes E, Bullock AD, Bailey SE, Cowpe JG, KaraharjuSuvanto T. A review of continuing professional development for dentists in Europe. Eur J Dent Educ. 2013 May;17 Suppl 1:5-17 doi: 10.1111/eje.12045. PMID: 23581734

Nermin Y & Ankara T. The responsibilities and rights of dental professionals. Int Dental J (2006) 56, 224-226




How to Cite

Sykes, L., Matshego, L., & Bookhan, V. (2022). Trust me – I’m a Doctor. South African Dental Journal, 77(09), 596–573.

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 3 > >>