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October 14, 1974

The Practice of Medicine

JAMA. 1974;230(2):264-265. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03240020054027

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Prosperity in East Germany has resulted in a splendid forward surge in the percentage of citizens who hold college degrees; this fact combined with a corresponding diminution in scavenger and street-cleaning services, results in a fulfillment of the adage that where everyone is "somebody" there's a dearth of nobodies: Plenty chiefs, no injuns!

Something of this is now occurring in medicine. The country doesn't really lack doctors; it's just that most of them have no licenses. After dismissing the fringe benefits of acupuncture, midwifery, chiropractic, and other ancillary medical arts, there remain the tausende aber tausende of absorbers of health columns in journals and magazines, students of television medicine, zodiacal enthusiasts, answerers of medical questionnaires, and people who, in the course of illness, have become experts in their diseases. The patent medicine, the home remedy nostrum, and grandma's mustard plaster have yielded to the popularity of playing doctor.

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