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December 26, 1986

Uncertainty and the Future of Young Physicians

JAMA. 1986;256(24):3391-3392. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380240085035

Physicians have confronted many recent professional and social challenges, such as rising health care costs, an extensive federal role in health care financing, professional liability, technological growth, and subspecialization.1-3 Although many physicians have felt threatened, most have adapted to these incremental changes; some have even flourished.4 Today, however, revolutionary forces such as the physician surplus, the growth of the for-profit sector, competition, and a preoccupation with cost containment threaten to eliminate traditional medical practice, driving even established physicians into alternative delivery systems. For young physicians lacking practice experience and carrying unprecedented debt, the result is overwhelming uncertainty about the future.5

The article entitled "Health Care in Transition: Consequences for Young Physicians" in this issue of JAMA6 (a report by the American Medical Association's Council on Long-Range Planning and Development) analyzes the forces that make uncertainty part of the modern environment of medicine. Historically, a physician had