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November 13, 1972

Phoenix in FlightAll Systems Go!

JAMA. 1972;222(7):821-826. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03210070051015

The occasion of this lectureship offers a yearly opportunity to review a major issue facing our profession. In the 1970s the unavoidable issue is the problem of change. The challenge is not just to describe changes as they occur, but to search for ways of controlling change—of building on what has gone before, rather than permitting older institutions to be torn down; of achieving orderly evolution, rather than submitting to revolution.

In the insignia of the American Board of Family Practice we find a symbol of change. It is the phoenix, the mythical bird of ancient Egypt, said to be as large as an eagle, with plumage of brilliant scarlet and gold. This legendary bird, as it grew old, would fashion a nest of aromatic boughs and spices. Then, by flapping its wings, the phoenix would set itself ablaze, to be consumed in its own flames. But, invariably, a new