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May 23, 1990

The doctor in the House diagnoses flux and frustration

JAMA. 1990;263(20):2806-2811. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440200112036

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US REPRESENTATIVE J. Roy Rowland, MD, one of only two physicians in Congress, sits in his office on Capitol Hill and ponders a reporter's question:

Is now a good time to be a doctor?

"Well, yes and no," he answers in the style of the true politician. "No, because of the problems in professional liability and in finding ways to pay for high-tech medicine and because the current mood of Congress is to look out for the patient's needs and the government's needs and not the doctor's needs.

"On the other hand, the strides in technology and in what the doctor can do for humanity are breathtaking. So, yes, today is an exciting time."

Still, he considers, searching for the right expression, "Physicians as a group are not viewed very pleasantly by the Congress and the public, and the medical system is in trouble."

A loud buzzer announcing a roll-call