The Changing Image of the American Physician

John Duffy, PhD
JAMA. 1967;200(1):30-34. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03120140088013.
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The high status that American physicians enjoy in present day society is largely a product of two factors, the broad application of science and technology to medicine and the advancing standard of living which has created a steadily increasing demand for medical services. This fortunate situation is of quite recent origin. Indeed, the 20th century was at hand before the art of medicine successfully united with science and technology to provide a sound basis for the profession. During much of American history, practitioners of medicine had relatively low status.

In the colonial period, the most immediate problem arose from the acute shortage of properly trained medical men. While a great many Americans who trace their genealogy discover that their forefathers were aristocrats, nonetheless, the majority of settlers to the New World came from the lower economic groups. Physicians in 17th- and 18th-century Europe were trained in universities, a fact which


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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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