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A Piece of My Mind
August 12, 2009

A Paucity of Physicians

JAMA. 2009;302(6):609-610. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1090

At last count, I had three butchers, four bakers, but no candlestick makers. Five flight attendants, seven nurses, four musicians. One professional soccer player, a half-dozen car mechanics, and 28 people who work for Bill Gates. Nine lawyers, three wine merchants, and one lone physician. These are just a handful of the people who make up the colorful palette known in the industry as my patient panel. It's that one lone physician who puzzles me. Why only one? After all, I practice in an area where there is no paucity of physicians, so I know that these elusive patients are indeed out there. I talk to physicians several times a day, conferring on mutual patients or trying to cadge a quick curbside consult about a difficult case. But that's on a professional level. On the patient level, physicians are indeed a rare entity, at least in my corner of the medical world.

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