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December 20, 1965

What Should the Profession Do About the Incompetent Physician?

Author Affiliations

President, Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States.

JAMA. 1965;194(12):1287-1290. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090250021004

Ideally answer to the question, "What should the profession do about the incompetent physician?" is too simple to warrant discussion. It should be answered with one word, prevention. There should not be any incompetent physicians, for their very existence could be prevented by several methods. First, selection of medical students should be on such a scientific basis that the potentially incompetent physician could be eliminated by denying him admission. If, despite the refinements of the inexact science of modern psychology an incompetent student is admitted he can be promptly eliminated at the end of the first year and certainly before graduation. What? Have we detected an incompetent house officer? Improbable, but it may not be too late to persuade him to adopt another profession because he surely will be denied a license by a state board of medical examiners. And here my story should end.

But wait! Let's be practical.

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