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Evolution of a Specialty

William J. Shaw, MD
JAMA. 1963;186(6):575-577. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.63710060026012.
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IN THE BEGINNING God created heaven, earth, and the general practitioner. Without the ability to document this statement, it seems reasonable that Adam offered first aid to Abel following his altercation with Cain. In the absence of an obstetrician, Adam doubtless offered his services to Eve at their sons' births and may therefore be certified, there being no dissenting voices, as the original purveyor of medical care.

Many nations have contributed to the heritage of medicine as we enjoy it today. Medical history is not available to follow its earliest progress. It is known that ancient Egypt tended toward grouping medical practitioners into specialties although Moses, who devised excellent health laws during the Exodus, was probably just a general practitioner. The Romans, taught largely by medical men from Greece and Alexandria, still have many residuals in Jerusalem of well-constructed aqueducts and other flood control devices. Hippocrates is still quoted and


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