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July 28, 1993

The Era of the Patient

JAMA. 1993;270(4):450-451. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03510040054018

To the Editor.  —Dr Reiser1 is to be lauded for his scholarly yet lucid and compelling description of "The Era of the Patient." While some may find his suggestions for using a consumer consultant as too radical, I would like to cite yet another use for the consumer consultant.When Reiser describes influencing education through consumer instructors, he refers only to educating medical students. What about continuing education of practitioners?As a general internist, I have been frustrated with the limits of continuing medical education, which generally focuses on diseases and uses patients' pathognomonic symptoms rather than exploring features unique to a particular patient (idiosyncratic features). For example, in internal medicine education, subspecialty teaching predominates, and when the term "general internal medicine" is used in an educational setting, it frequently covers other topics, such as women in medicine, violence, health care reform, preventive medicine, physician-assisted suicide, sexually transmitted diseases,