Professional ethics encompass the personal and corporate standards of behavior expected by professionals.
The word professionalism originally applied to vows of a religious order. By no later than the year 1675, the term had seen secular application and was applied to the three learned professions: Divinity, Law, and Medicine. The term professionalism was also used for the military profession around this same time.
Professionals and those working in acknowledged professions exercise specialist knowledge and skill. How the use of this knowledge should be governed when providing a service to the public can be considered a moral issue and is termed professional ethics.
It is capable of making judgments, applying their skills, and reaching informed decisions in situations that the general public cannot because they have not attained the necessary knowledge and skills. One of the earliest examples of professional ethics is the Hippocratic oath to which medical doctors still adhere to this day.