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August 2, 1971

Relicensure, Physician Competence, and Continuing Medical Education

JAMA. 1971;217(5):688-689. doi:10.1001/jama.1971.03190050144014

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Whether one accepts or rejects such statements as: the half-life of most medical information is approximately five years, or the amount of medical knowledge is doubling every eight years, there is general acceptance by physicians and the public that physicians in any field of medicine must keep up-to-date. Some of the basic concepts that describe and distinguish a profession as being different from a trade or a technological skill involve the idea that a profession requires "a lifetime of learning," and that members of a profession who possess a body of knowledge relating to the profession are obligated to teach others in the profession so that the people may be served better.

While the need for continuing medical education is evident, and the concept of a profession supports its necessity, it is the state licensing authority that is charged with the legal responsibility for assuring high physician competence in the