Yours Truly


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Am Fam Physician. 2000 Apr 1;61(7):1995-2001.

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This commemorative “Yours Truly” section contains letters reproduced from the first two volumes of GP, AFP's predecessor, as part of the celebration of AFP's 50th year of publication.

These letters represent a sampling of the response to GP's publisher, Mac Cahal, after the publication of the first issue of GP, in April 1950.

Orchids by Wire (May 1950)

Dear Mr. Cahal:

The sincere and hearty congratulations of the entire Wisconsin chapter go to you for the splendid achievement embodied in first issue of GP. Publication outstanding and a tribute to your tireless efforts.

Orchids from an Artist

Dear Mr. Cahal:

We received your Pre-Publication issue of GP and it makes a very fine impression. We wouldn't be surprised if there is a sudden rash of revamping other magazines in the field because they're being put to shame.

Generally we feel you and everyone working on the book are to be congratulated in standing the medical publishing field on its ear. GP has all the modern cleanliness and crispness of a physician's brand-new examining room.

If there is anything we can do to help you keep the start you have, we'd certainly like the opportunity.

Sample Orchids (June 1950)

Dear Mr. Cahal:

I wish to acknowledge arrival of the new journalistic infant, GP, at our office and to announce that it has met with universal approval. It is beautifully done, Mac, and you and members of the staff can be excused for feeling puffed up about it, as I presume you are. My sincere best wishes for continued success.

Dear Mr. Cahal:

This will acknowledge your letter of April 3, concerning, the developments of the Journal of the American Academy of General Practice. I also received the first issue, and I had an opportunity to look through it.

I am sure that there can be no doubt that this is an almost phenomenal development. The Journal itself is extremely well organized and has much of interest in it. Everyone who sees it, I am sure, will be greatly impressed by its format and general structure. I was delighted to hear that Doctor Alvarez has accepted the editorship of the Journal. That will give assurance of maintaining the high standard that has already been set for the new journal.

Dear Mr. Cahal:

GP is uncommonly good looking and good reading. The one thing it doesn't offer much of is: room for improvement.

Heartiest congratulations!

Dear Mr. Cahal:

Let me extend my heartiest congratulations to the Academy on the birth of GP. Certainly this journal marks a milestone in the continuing vigorous growth of an organization which has enormous potential for improving the character of medical practice in America. The past two years make it clear that this potential is rapidly being converted into actual progress along a road which will inevitably lead to more and better medical care for our citizens.

The fact that you have not been seemingly bound by tradition in either format or construction of this journal is certainly refreshing. Particularly do I like the idea of using scientific articles specifically written for this journal. The only positive suggestion I might make is that, again flying in the teeth of tradition, more illustrations, both drawings and photographs, be used. As you know, I have long felt that we have hardly scratched the surface for the use of visual aids in teaching, and very often a well thought out drawing or series of photographs will represent a thought more effectively than any number of words.

Again, heartiest congratulations and best wishes on the appearance of this journal, the product of so much in the way of blood, sweat, and tears.

Dear Mr. Cahal:

This is just a note to congratulate you on Volume I, No. I of GP. Typographically it is a beautiful job and editorially my guess is that you are successfully tapping an interest that has long been neglected. The best of luck in your venture.

Dear Mr. Cahal:

Volume I, Number I of GP arrived in the morning mail, and it was a pleasure to behold. The word “beautiful” scarcely does it justice. It is without a doubt the finest looking medical journal in the world, and, I dare say, will stand very high on any list of top quality publications anywhere.

It is beautifully and interestingly arranged. Articles and editorials are tops.

The American Academy of General Practice has a great future ahead of it. It is indeed a pleasure and an honor to be an advertiser in GP.

Congratulations on your splendid job. All of us here at Mead Johnson & Company wish you the best of success in the months and years to come.

Kudos (July 1950)

Dear Mr. Cahal:

For some time it has been my desire to express my appreciation for the first and now the second number of GP.

Your Journal of the American Academy of General Practice is a triumphant publication. The exceptionally fine quality of paper and print affords easy and delightful reading and the arrangement of contents and attractive appearance of the entire journal make it a gem to behold. Not least of all by any means are the well-known names of those who have contributed articles to the first two issues.

I could not postpone any longer my wish to write and congratulate you on your marvelous achievement. The tremendous piece of work that you have accomplished should insure an unusually remarkable success for GP.

Dear Mr. Cahal:

The Nevada Chapter of the American Academy of General Practice wishes to take this opportunity to extend its congratulations on the very excellent first issue of the GP. We take great pride in GP as our official publication.

We also wish to congratulate you on the appointment of Doctor Alvarez as Editor-in-Chief of GP. We feel that he is certain to discharge his duties in a commendable manner and will continue to make GP as excellent as the first issue has proven to be.

Dear Mr. Cahal:

As Editor of the Journal of the Kentucky State Medical Association, and on behalf of our staff, we want to express our hearty congratulations to you, Walter C. Alvarez, M.D., and the American Academy of General Practice on issuing the journal GP.

It has freshness, depth, originality, and its typography is excellent. It is, in short, a “finished” work.

The Academy should take great pride in its new publication.

Dear Mr. Cahal:

The word terrific is being overused these days, I know, but I cannot think of any better word to describe Volume 1, Number 1, of GP. Many thanks for your kindness in mailing me a copy of the first issue which impressed me as being a daring trailblazer in medical literature.

The only trouble GP may get you into, as I see it, is that it may antagonize Life, Saturday Evening Post, and other popular magazines raising the cry of unfair competition. Typographically, literally, and graphically it achieves a pinnacle that should make it must reading by all physicians, not only general practitioners.

With best wishes for GP's long and successful life, I remain,

By August, the hubbub surrounding the new publication had died down a bit, and “Yours Truly” became a vehicle for meaningful exchange.

Specialization Isn't the Answer (August 1950)

Chairman, Publication Committee

Dear Sir:

Recently the dean of a midwestern medical school stated that the great majority of his senior medical students planned to go into some specialty and that they planned to do so because of their fear of socialized medicine. No doubt other factors influenced them in making their decisions.

They have lived in an environment of full-time teachers and specialists. They learn that in the hospitals the specialists play the dominant role and they learn of the expanded residency training program which leads them to believe that there is a great demand for specialists. No doubt the war contributed its part to this trend toward over-specialization.

As a result of environment, a lack of practical counsel and immature thinking on their part, these young men have come to believe that it is essential that they go into some limited field of medicine.

We who are experienced know that our system of medicine cannot support this oversupply of specialists, that many of these young men are due to be disappointed, and that if this trend continues our system will become much more vulnerable to the social planners.

We can understand the increasing demand for specialty training but it is hard to understand the all-out effort on the part of training hospitals and private hospitals to furnish this training. We feel that there are neither adequate facilities nor an adequate number of competent teachers to train properly all these young men who now believe they are receiving specialty training.

We believe our system of medicine as it stands has accomplished too much and that it works too well for both the public and the profession to have it jeopardized by this impractical trend.

We members of the Academy can do much to combat this trend. Members should seek appointments on the faculties of medical schools. We should lend support to our Hospital Committee and urge the establishment and operation of a department of general practice in those hospitals having residency training programs.

By their contacts the medical students and interns will learn that the men who do general practice are also highly trained and respected men.

We could point out to students and interns that in many instances it would be wiser to start in general practice. After a time they would be in a much better position to make a decision as to their future course. Some will wish to take adequate training and go into a specialty. Others will be happy to remain in general practice and arrange their postgraduate studies to fit their needs and desires.

Our Committee on Education is sponsoring an extensive postgraduate training program and a great variety of courses are available.

A Specialist Speaks (November 1950)

Dear Doctor Boyd:

I read your address on “The Hospital in Relation to General and Specialty Practice” as it appeared in the September issue of GP. It was my intention to attend the meeting of the Los Angeles County Medical Association, but another important appointment came just before going to the San Francisco meetings.

I think you stated very clearly the position of the general practitioner in his relationship to the hospital. While I have been a specialist for fifty years, I see very clearly that the general practitioner must be the soul and center of the practice of medicine. Specialization has grown so rapidly that it has almost overwhelmed the profession as a whole. I liked medicine when we had our County Medical Society meetings attended by members who practice all branches of medicine. It did not hurt the specialist to hear the problems of the general practitioner, and it was valuable to the general practitioner to hear papers and discussions by specialists.

The part that specialization has assumed in recent years is not altogether a happy one. My belief is that the proper position of the specialist is that of consultant, and that the general practitioner should be free to call him without fear that he is going to lose his patient.

There is no doubt that the general practitioner is the one who comes closest to the people and who should be given the facilities with which to practice the best medicine possible. This he cannot do unless he has access to laboratories and hospitals.

I congratulate you on the good sense of your article.

By the end of the first year of publication, the first of many clinical pearls started appearing in “Yours Truly.”

Action of Aureomycin on Vaccinia (December 1950)

Dear Sir:

Here is a bit of information which I thought would be of interest to the readers of GP.

The day following a smallpox vaccination, a child of 1 year developed severe pneumonitis. Full doses of aureomycin quickly cured the illness and was given a total of 4 days. The vaccination developed into a typical primary reaction. This seems to show that aureomycin is of no value against vaccinia and by extension against smallpox.


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