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JAMA Revisited
May 16, 2017

The Supply of Doctors

Author Affiliations

June 28, 1947

JAMA. 1947;134(9):785.

JAMA. 2017;317(19):2023. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.3994

Recently a national periodical—Collier’s—published a misleading article by Albert Maisel entitled “So You Can’t Get a Doctor!” This long and somewhat confused statement purports to demonstrate that there is an acute shortage of doctors in this country and that deans of medical schools are callous to this alleged need, as shown by termination of the accelerated program in most schools and the reduction in freshmen enrolments to prewar levels.

Much of the material in this article is sheer nonsense. The author begins with a partial quotation from a publication of the American Medical Association, taken out of its context, predicting a postwar shortage of doctors. Actually this estimate was made when the end of the war seemed far distant and the military authorities were refusing to allow able bodied men to enter premedical studies. The figures quoted were based on military estimates of the physician need for a large peacetime army and navy, universal military training and a staff for the Veterans Administration three times the number now actually employed. Only a fraction of the anticipated number of physicians is now employed in these services.