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December 27, 1965


JAMA. 1965;194(13):1383. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090260043016

A noted novelist once remarked that he would have chosen a medical career in preference to writing, were he not discouraged by the fact that so many of his physician friends confessed to a preference in the opposite direction—they all wanted to be writers. Facetious as the remark may seem, it contains much that is true. Many doctors aspire to be writers and not a few succeed. Indeed, so rich and varied is their contribution to literature that it prompts Sir Russell Brain1 to exclaim in a burst of rhetoric: "Is there anything comparable in the other professions? Do lawyers in their quieter moments write on the human aspects of torts, or architects turn from calculations of window space and sunlight to compose hymns to Apollo?"

Although some good writing is done by physicians avocationally during the years of practice, the most important contribution to literature comes from those