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Book and Media Reviews
December 20, 2006

History of Specialization

Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA.

JAMA. 2006;296(23):2859-2864. doi:10.1001/jama.296.23.2861

Specialization in research and practice has been a visibly distinctive feature of the biomedical landscape in Europe and the United States certainly since the second half of the 20th century. In this important historical study, George Weisz, PhD, professor of Social Studies of Medicine at McGill University, cogently analyzes the forces that gave rise to specialties and continue to shape their futures. These include the needs of medical research and education, the expanding role of government as an engine in rationalizing health care resources, the politics of regulating new and existing specialties, and the internationalization of training, research, and practice. The compelling nature of Weisz's analysis derives from his impressive grasp of the secondary literature in multiple languages and a comparative framework that illuminates the conditions that defined the path of medical specialization in different national settings.