Most physicians are familiar with the achievements of such medical luminaries as Sir William Osler, Harvey Cushing, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, and we are continually informed about the discoveries of today's medical researchers and academicians. Yet in this, as in all eras of US medicine, the great physicians of America are not widely known.
The great physicians of America are practitioners. They are respected by their colleagues and patients and esteemed in their communities. Their lives are bound to the unique heritage and role of the physician: the care of the patient. A physician may be a great medical thinker, a great medical writer, even a great medical scientist, and still not be a great physician.
This issue marks the first appearance of a new JAMA department (p 1261), PRACTITIONERS, which will be published occasionally and will present the thoughts and experiences of outstanding practicing physicians. It is our goal