Health professions education has always been concerned with creating health professionals for the future. However, the nature of professional work is rapidly changing. This leads to questions about how well health professions education can “future proof” current and next generation professionals. Some of the pressures professionals face are intensifications of existing tensions that have always defined the professions and their work. Other tensions are new, reflecting shifts in societal expectations, technological innovations, and greater scrutiny of professional work. Drawing on theories from the sociology of the professions, the sociology of work, and the sociology of expertise, I will use examples from the domains of (1) patient safety and quality improvement and (2) patient engagement to explore these tensions and their implications. Ultimately, I will argue that if educators wish to preserve – and enrich – the contributions of the professions to health and healthcare, we require more complex understandings of professional work and continuous professional learning.

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