This introduction presents an overview of key concepts covered in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book presents the results of an interdisciplinary conference on ethics and professionalism in healthcare which was organised by the Institute for Medical Ethics and History of Medicine at Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany. Physicians served for a long time as a paradigm example of an occupation that is distinguished by certain features which transform it from a mere job into a profession. The notion of professionalism within medicine and healthcare has recently gained attention as a countermovement to forces and tendencies which threaten the independent judgement of physicians regarding the care of individual patients and for the sake of society. In order to better understand the shifting requirements and dynamic roles of professionals in modern healthcare, a look at their historical development and social context is of great importance.