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April 27, 1984

Why Do You Want to Go to Medical School?

JAMA. 1984;251(16):2142. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340400070028

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After I had been in solo practice as a family physician for over a year, a young man in a red volunteer uniform asked me how to get into medical school.

I asked, "Why would you want to get into medical school?"

He replied, "My father is a construction worker. It's a very dangerous job. I want some security."

I was flabbergasted.

Economic pressures were weighing on me at that time. My mortgage was due in two weeks and my cash flow was poor. My overhead costs were 50% of my collections, which were running at only 70%. My employees got better benefits than I did: health insurance, paid vacations, and holiday and overtime pay. I worked holidays and nights. The hospital medical staff were divided between the large clinic in town and the independent physicians. We were all worried about preferred provider organizations, Medicare, and Medicaid fixed reimbursement.