The Making of a Health Profession: A South African Case Study
Journal of Law and Medicine 2017 Vol. 24(3), 707-721
15 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2017
Date Written: April 27, 2017
The judgement by the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa in South African Dental Association v Minister of Health  ZASCA 163 concerns a seemingly technical question about the statutory professional recognition of dental assistants, and therefore provides an opportunity for legal-historical analysis of how a health/medical profession is "made". The primary locus of this article is South Africa. However, the value of the analysis is not confined to jurisdictional boundaries, as the reader is invited to reconsider how and when a vocation or occupation becomes a profession. The underlying question of professionalisation, incidental to the Supreme Court of Appeal's reasoning, informs and guides an important debate with relevance not only for the parties before the Court, but also for the contemporary notion of professional practice. It is argued that the power of professionalisation deserves to be demystefied in order to make legal sense and to affect legitimacy and trust in the eyes of the public at large.
Keywords: Medical Profession, Professionalisation, Dental Assistants, South Africa
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation