Author Affiliation: Dr Lurie is Senior Editor, JAMA.
Life was certainly simpler for medical educators in the immediate post-Flexnerian
age. The scientific discoveries of the late 19th and early 20th centuries
seemed at the time to be mere promissory notes on an even more abundant harvest
of medical miracles, and the public then viewed the medical profession with
a mixture of veneration, deference, and gratitude. Medical education largely
involved a didactic initiation into the known principles of disease, followed
by a few years of bedside experience. Patients, for their part, were perhaps
reassured by their inability to penetrate their physicians' scientific training,
as its complexity was also proof of its soundness. The patient-physician relationship
was known to be important, but only the most august professor would have presumed
to lecture to medical students or interns about it. If the art of medicine
was long, as Hippocrates first asserted, it was also thought to be mostly
indescribable and unteachable: students simply apprenticed themselves to practitioners
of known clinical virtuosity in a proven method of education and craftsmanship
whose roots stretched far beyond the Middle Ages into antiquity.
Lurie SJ. JAMA 2001 Medical Education Issue: A Call for Papers. JAMA. 2001;285(4):465–466. doi:10.1001/jama.285.4.465
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