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October 16, 1954

Why We Became Doctors

JAMA. 1954;156(7):749. doi:10.1001/jama.1954.02950070077024

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It is curious that the decision to study medicine is influenced by personal experiences, an element of chance, or frequently the process of elimination. Some defy immediate analysis; and yet most motivations appear logical, though an apparently rational one in one instance may not make good sense in another. Idealism is reflected in the career of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman recipient of the doctor of medicine degree, and likewise in that of other women. Lewis Tryon followed in the footsteps of medical forebears. Hans Zinsser selected medicine because of a fondness for science instilled by his teachers. Carlos Williams and A. J. Cronin were bent by the desire of literary men to eat fairly regularly. Albert Schweitzer, a theologian of stature and musical exponent of Bach, studied medicine in order to become a medical missionary. In this book, 50 articulate men and women tell their own stories in their

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