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July 1995

Does the Scope of Practice for Surgery Define the Once and Future Leadership of Medicine?

Author Affiliations

Hiram C. Polk, Jr, MD, is the Ben A. Reid, Sr, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of Louisville (Kentucky) and Editor of the American Journal of Surgery. His contributions to graduate surgical education and his high-quality research are widely admired. An outstanding lecturer, surgeon, and educator, Dr Polk has consistently been at the cutting edge of intellectual surgical progress.

Arch Surg. 1995;130(7):713-716. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1995.01430070035004

WRITING FOR the 75th anniversary of one of the premier surgical journals in the world is surely an intimidating assignment, but a most suitable subject is the reemergence of the scope of practice as an issue for all surgeons, especially general surgeons, in this era of expanding technology and lurching health system reform. In fact, the scope of practice of surgery has changed enormously during the life of the Archives of Surgery.

Surgery has spun off a variety of subspecialties, most of which it can be proud of, and has experienced a remarkable and profound series of technological achievements. Virtually none of the specialties of surgery that are now so well recognized and entrenched existed when the Archives was founded. On balance, most of these specialties have progressed to the point where they have a reasonably sound basis, both through the science of surgical inquiry and through the honest practice

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