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January 1, 1973

New Year, 1973

JAMA. 1973;223(1):76. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220010062020

The point of this editorial is to describe the qualities of a physician—a fictitious one it's true, but one whose enviable attributes are essential to a happier life for patients, for communities, and for the nation. To accomplish this purpose, something in the nature of a book review must first be given.

In his delightful fantasy, "Doc Mellhorn at the Pearly Gates," Benét1 tells of Doc's life after death at the age of seventy-odd years. He found himself driving along a beautifully landscaped highway in his first Model-T Ford. Once, he stopped, made sure he had his little black bag (his first one, not the presentation one they'd given him at the hospital), that his wallet bore his initials, felt his pulse, which was steady, and accepted the fact of his condition, which included unexpected clarity of vision.

When Doc arrived at gates that reached to the sky, he