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August 1962

Boys in White

Arch Intern Med. 1962;110(2):276. doi:10.1001/archinte.1962.03620200136027

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This book is a report, comprehensible to the layman, but of particular interest to those concerned with medical education, of a sociological study conducted in 1956 and 1957 at the medical school of the University of Kansas. The authors lived, ate, and, figuratively speaking, slept with medical students during extensive periods as "participant observers," recording mountains of notes on their behavior and conversations with the objective of discovering "what medical school did to medical students other than giving them a technical education."

The sociological theory with which they worked in trying to interpret their observations is based on the concept of symbolic interaction, which assumes that a person's behavior can be understood as being determined in large measure by taking into account the expectation of others with whom he interacts. The formulations accordingly may strike many, particularly those psychoanalytically oriented, as being somewhat superficial, but, be that as it may,

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