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March 23, 1994

Medical Students and Primary CareWhat Makes Specialties So Special?

Author Affiliations

From the Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington, DC.

JAMA. 1994;271(12):946-947. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510360072041

Despite the prominence the oath of Hippocrates has achieved in medicine, Hippocrates did not have a monopoly on health care in ancient Greece. The school of medicine in the town of Cnidus, though seldom mentioned today, was once a healthy rival of the Hippocratic campus. While on the island of Cos, Hippocrates was teaching his students to care for the entire patient; on a nearby peninsula, the Cnidian physicians were focused on specific diseases and on the organs that they thought were involved. The Cnidians were reductionist; they might be called Western civilization's first specialists. But they lived in a time when scientific knowledge was limited, and the school at Cos fared much better than the one at Cnidus. It was the Hippocratic school that stood the test of time, and so it is the Hippocratic oath that our graduating medical students recite.1

See also p 914.

Given that

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