A patient is rarely reassured by the sight of his physician reaching for a medical text or journal in search of an answer to a worrisome query. This to him is an admission of ignorance. Nor is he impressed when told that his doctor is away attending a postgraduate course. The time for study—he would think—is before, not after, graduation from medical school. Casey and Kildare never seem to be in need of implementing their knowledge.
This expectation of omniscience in the physician is based on the widely held notion that all there is to know about the craft of medicine is learned in medical school and that the years which follow merely provide opportunities for practice to make this knowledge perfect. The doctor himself often reinforces this notion by his conscious and unconscious attitudes in attempting to inspire confidence. The sophisticated layman and the scientist know better, of course,