Examination, "Is That All There Is" to Medical Licensing?

Ray L. Casterline, MD
JAMA. 1972;220(12):1598-1599. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03200120048014.
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A ballad popularized recently by songstress Peggy Lee1 is in the sentimental-romantic mood of that form of poetic composition, and of a type rarely featured in medical journals. Yet the title of that haunting melody embodies much that is pertinent to this comment on medical licensing: Determination of a physician's fitness to practice, through assessment of his ability to recall material from the "core" of medical knowledge and by measurement of his competence in the solution of clinical problems, falls far short of being all there is to medical licensing. However, with but brief exposure to such matters, many physicians properly gain the feeling that the ability to master the intellectual challenge of such examinations really is all there is. In this they have much in common with the legendary blind men whose description of the elephant was based on limited experience and inadequate exposure to its morphologic features.


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