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JAMA Revisited
August 4, 2020

The Future of the Physician

JAMA. 2020;324(5):521. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.13554

Originally Published August 7, 1920 | JAMA. 1920;75(6):357- 360.

Must we not provide good physicians for the state; and must not these be such as have been conversant with great numbers both of healthy and sick people?—Plato’s Republic.

Psychology teaches us that the essential function of the mind is its dealing with the future. Life is one long anticipation, preparation for what is to come, preoccupation with tomorrow. Of course, there could be no outlook without experience. The faculty of anticipation is based on the store of memories: as the searchlight depends on electromotive force or the cantilever bridge reaches out ahead in direct proportion to the materials gathered and joined together behind, so the subject of this particular anticipation of the future of the physician is based on an experience of forty years in the practice of medicine. If the cantilever bridge is a good analogy, I ought to be able to project my anticipations forward, then, at least some forty years.