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February 14, 1977

The Political Education of a Physician

JAMA. 1977;237(7):676. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270340062024

The 1960s and early 70s were years of political and social turmoil in America. The assassination of a President and of a civil rights leader, alienation of young people by a war that few could condone, the struggles by minorities for equal rights, rising unemployment, inflation, a breakdown in many social services, and all these climaxed by malfeasance in the executive branch of government led to politicalization of students, including those in medicine. That young people express concern for and seek to improve the social structure in which they will spend their lives should be viewed as strengthening a democracy and not as an attack on its cherished institutions. Social organization can no more be static than can medical science. Both must be subjected to continual evaluation and to change in order to be improved.

Medicine, being a social as well as a scientific enterprise, often develops people with the