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May 2, 1977

The Physician of Tomorrow

Author Affiliations

From the University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine, The Center for the Health Sciences, Los Angeles.

JAMA. 1977;237(18):1952-1953. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270450042017

EVERYONE knows that today's medical dean cannot predict on any mid-morning what may happen by high noon. There may be new requirements for the latest health manpower bill, an unforeseen fiscal crisis, or a legislative inquiry into why medical schools do not have departments devoted to alcoholism.

Thus, in undertaking to discuss "the physician of tomorrow," I was appropriately apprehensive. Colleagues sought to reassure me by pointing to the new wave of Delphic surveys, a technique devised by management consultants in which a group of concerned people individually record their reactions to a series of predictions and serially react to successive summaries of the group's collective vision of the future. For a while I felt better. But as I reviewed the history of the Delphic oracles, my insecurity returned. Aesop, you may recall, criticized his contemporary Oracle of Delphi. He asked why the oracles always answered the most important questions