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December 25, 1987

Continuing Medical Education: Past, Present, and Future

JAMA. 1987;258(24):3555-3556. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400240087030

Medicine, the law, and theology have traditionally been called the learned professions. For centuries, one studied a profession, learned all that one's master knew of it, and practiced that body of learning for the rest of one's career. During the 20th century, the length and depth of the learning period for medical professionals has continued to expand—first by a formal medical school curriculum, then by an internship, and later by an ever longer residency program. Still, no matter how well educated or carefully certified he or she is, a physician can no longer rest comfortably in the belief that having learned it all, one has only to continue to apply that knowledge to patients to practice good medicine. To remain competent, a physician must engage in career-long learning. The explosion in the amount of medical knowledge available has mandated that medicine is today a learning profession.

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