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April 11, 1980

Physicians and Health Policy

Author Affiliations

From The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore.

JAMA. 1980;243(14):1451-1453. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03300400035026

HEALTH policy involves decisions on the allocation of manpower, services, and finances to meet patient care, education, and research needs. Physicians venturing into policy analysis are not usually conversant with these issues, nor are they familiar with the workings of the governmental bodies and other organizations responsible for health policy formulation. It seems to be assumed that if one is a first-rate researcher or clinician, the transition will be an easy one. Too often, this assumption is erroneous.

Moreover, administration and policymaking generally are held in low esteem by both practicing and academic physicians. These activities require a partial or complete withdrawal from the one-on-one patient setting and involve concerns with systems and aggregate decision making. Physicians taking on such responsibilities are viewed as rejecting the raison d'être of medicine and becoming politicians. This position may have been credible once, "but the times, they are a-changin'." All physicians must have