Medical romance fiction is a subgenre of popular romance fiction that features medical professionals in their work environment. This essay explores the way professionalism is portrayed in popular medical romance fiction written during the early twenty-first century, a period of significant disruption in both the public image and self-understanding of organized medicine. I analyze a selection of contemporary medical romance novels, published between 2008 and 2012, demonstrating that medical romance fiction is a form of public intervention in apparently insular debates over medical professionalism. I conclude that they promote “nostalgic professionalism,” a vision of physicians as a select group of highly educated, self-regulated experts who provide, with a caring and altruistic attitude, a vitally important service to society, while at the same time generating implicit critiques of it.


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pp. 70-90
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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