- Professional body
A professional body or professional organization, also known as a professional association or professional society, is an organization, usually
non-profit, that exists to further a particular profession, to protect both the public interest and the interests of professionals. The roles of these bodies have been variously defined to include: "a group of people in a learned occupation who are entrusted with maintaining control or oversight of the legitimate practice of the occupation;" also a body acting "to safeguard the public interest;" organisations which "represent the interest of the professional practitioners," and so "act to maintain their own privileged and powerful position as a controlling body." [ [http://www.qualityresearchinternational.com/glossary/professionalbody.htm "Professional body" at Analytic Quality Glossary] ]
Such bodies generally strive to achieve a balance between these two often conflicting mandates. Though professional bodies often act to protect the public by maintaining and enforcing standards of training and ethics in their profession, they often also act like a
cartelor a labor union(trade union) for the members of the profession, though this description is commonly rejected by the body concerned.
Therefore, in certain dispute situations the balance between these two aims may get tipped more in favor of protecting and defending the professionals than in protecting the public. An example can be used to illustrate this. In a dispute between a lawyer and his/her client or between a patient and his/her doctor, the
Law Society of England and Walesor the General Medical Councilwill inevitably find itself plunged into a conflict of interest in (a) its wish to defend the interests of the client, while also (b) wishing to defend the interests, status and privileges of the professional. It is clearly a tough call for it do both.
Many professional bodies are involved in the development and monitoring of professional educational programs, and the updating of skills, and thus perform
professional certificationto indicate that a person possesses qualifications in the subject area. Sometimes membership of a professional body is synonymous with certification, though not always. Membership of a professional body, as a legal requirement, can in some professions form the primary formal basis for gaining entry to and setting up practice within the profession; "see licensure."
Many professional bodies also act as
learned societiesfor the academic disciplines underlying their professions.
In countries where the law entitles
defendants to a juryby their peers, the general public may not be considered sufficiently knowledgeable in a field of practice to act as a peer in some legal cases. For example, the Professional associations do not always concern themselves with licensure or the equivalent or government regulations. In the United States, journalists seek to avoid government involvement in their work or "official" definitions.
List of professional organizations
* [http://www.paradigm-redshift.com/busprof.htm Directory of British professional Bodies]
* [http://ozres.com/uni/australian_professional_bodies.php List of Professional bodies in Australia]
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