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Am Fam Physician. 2000;62(5):922-933

This feature is part of a year-long series of excerpts and special commentaries celebrating AFP's 50th year of publication. Excerpts from the two 1950 volumes of GP, AFP's predecessor, appear along with highlights of 50 years of family medicine.

This feature is reproduced from the October and November, 1950, issues of GP. The commentary is written by Daniel J. Ostergaard, M.D., Vice President of International and Interprofessional Activities for the AAFP.



San Francisco Civic Auditorium March 19-22, 1951


Much of the smooth functioning of any national convention is the result of the hard behind-the-scenes labors of a group of local committees. These unsung heroes deserve more than a passing bow, for their familiarity with “home town” facilities and their willingness to devote long hours to arranging every minute detail lifts a tremendous load from the shoulders of national officers and committee members and the headquarters office.

The preliminary plans for the San Francisco Scientific Assembly are an outstanding example of the smooth functioning of a group of local members. Under the guidance of Ivan C. Heron, Chairman, and Francis T. Hodges, Vice-Chairman of the Local Arrangements Committee, the various sub-committee rosters have been filled and the members have already swung into action.

Scientific Exhibits. This 1951 Assembly marks the first time in medical meeting history that scientific exhibits will be integrated with the lecture program. Approximately half of the exhibits will directly tie in with or will supplement papers read during the teaching periods. For the careful selection and the manner in which these new “teaching aids” will be readily accessible, you can thank Co-Chairmen Antonio J. Franzi and Dean E. Hart, with their committee members…

Technical Exhibits. The technical exhibits to be presented at the Assembly will play an important part in the educational program. They are designed to be of functional use in dispensing knowledge…

So next March, while you are enjoying your stay in San Francisco, please remember that much of the credit for the smooth running of the Assembly will be due to the sincere, hard-working group of California physicians who make up the Local Arrangements Committee.

March 16. Westward bound to the 1951 Scientific Assembly at San Francisco via the scenic California Zephyr route of the Burlington-Denver & Rio Grande-Western Pacific. Enjoy the companionship of fellow members as we travel toward the Golden Gate.

March 17. An early morning stop at Denver, thence we traverse the beautiful state of Colorado by daylight, through the magnificent snow-capped Rockies to Salt Lake City.

March 18. Through spectacular Feather River Canyon this morning, with evening arrival San Francisco, where the party is transferred to San Francisco's finest hotels.

March 19–22. Assembly Activities …

Sample Fares: The following fares per person are based on two to a bedroom. Other types of Pullman accommodations and rates from home-city to home-city upon request:

Fares Include: All transportation; Pullman; taxes; choice double rooms in first-class hotels at San Francisco and Los Angeles; sightseeing as outlined; all breakfasts; transfers of passengers and baggage; dinner party at theatre-restaurant.

Plan Now a “Never-to-Be-Forgotten” Holiday with Your Fellow Members!

Communicate with A. A. G. P., Kansas City

Itinerary Number One, $ 777. Going via SS

Lurline, Return via United Air Lines. 22 Days

March 23: Leave San Francisco via Southern Pacific's

Lark en route Los Angeles.

March 24 and 25: In Los Angeles, with headquarters at the renowned Ambassador Hotel. A visit to the movie studios, famed Hollywood Bowl, Beverly Hills, Farmers' Market, the Toluca Lake district—and attendance at a nation-wide CBS broadcast.

March 26 to 30: Aboard the Matson Line's luxurious SS Lurline, with choice outside cabins. The keynote is enjoyment—rest and relax—play and have fun. Deck games … music … dancing … swimming … horse racing … bridge … bingo … excellent cuisine—all combine to speed your hours at sea.

March 31 to April 12: Honolulu and its traditionally. friendly Hawaiian welcome. Your home—the magnificent Royal Hawaiian Hotel. With superlative food and beautifully appointed accommodations, it is a luxurious version of delightful tropical living—a world-famous hotel on world-famous Waikiki Beach. Breathtaking scenery … delightful climate … beach and surf pastimes … evening gaiety climaxed by dancing under the stars—all expectations of Hawaii are far exceeded!

April 12: Time has come to reluctantly bid farewell to our new friends on this enchanting island and board our luxurious United Air Lines twin-decked Stratocruiser for our return to the States. Settled in this super air liner, we thrill to its power as we smoothly cruise at 300 miles an hour. In addition to a delightful full-course luncheon and dinner, refreshments are at our command from the service bar in the lounge. We land at Los Angeles where our private limousines transfer us immediately to the Ambassador Hotel.

April 13: Limousines transfer us to Los Angeles Union Station where private Pullmans await our return journey … taking leave of our fellow travelling companions, homeward bound from a never-to-be-forgotten “Hawaiian Holiday!”

Itinerary Number Two, $ 957. Going via SS Lurline, Return via SS Lurline 30 Days

This itinerary is arranged for those desiring to utilize the steamer in both directions, and while it is identical to Itinerary One up to April 12th, it then extends the stay in the islands until April 16th, returning to the Mainland on the SS Lurline, and arriving in Los Angeles April 21st.

Itinerary Number Three, $ 677. Going Via United Air Lines, Return via United Air Lines. 18 Days

Those desiring Itinerary Three will depart San Francisco the morning of March 24th aboard United Air Line's twin-decked Stratocruiser. The program in Honolulu is the same as in Itinerary One, covering for this group, however, their second through fourteenth days, March 25th through April 6th. Returning to the Mainland April 7th, again utilizing United Air Line's twin-decked Stratocruiser, three days will be spent at the Los Angeles Ambassador, with the Los Angeles portion of the itinerary provided on the return, departing for home April 10th.


Contrasts and Similarities: the AAFP Annual Assembly, Then and Now

I was asked to review and discuss the 1951 Scientific Assembly Program for this 50th Anniversary column, and it proved to be a fascinating experience. The early days of our predecessor organization, the American Academy of General Practice (AAGP), yielded a fine Scientific Assembly program that compares favorably with the AAFP Scientific Assembly program planned for September 2000. Some of the contrasts between the two meetings separated by 50 years are light and fun, while others are more philosophical and significant.

The three- and one-half-day duration of the scientific program of 50 years ago was similar to that of today's program. The subject content is still appropriate today, but the means of delivering that content is quite different. The entire program of that earlier Assembly was presented in a lecture and panel-discussion format. In 2000, we have scheduled 33 CME program elements, including delivery by computer, videotape, small-group workshop and live demonstration, with multiple opportunities for hands-on experience in procedural skills. Many of the subjects covered in 1951 are the same topics we occupy ourselves with today, such as “Care of the Dying,” “Obesity and Thinness,” “Essential Office Surgery” and “Medical Practice in a Changing World.” Our forefathers and foremothers in 1951 were concerned with the way medical practice relates to changing times, a theme that sounds familiar today.

Some of the numerical contrasts are striking. In 1951, the program was provided by 26 speakers. In 2000, the program is to be provided by more than 200 speakers. Fifty years ago, one of the most expensive Assembly hotels was the San Francisco Fairmont, in which a single room could be had for $12 (or less). In 2000, the Dallas Fairmont is not the most expensive hotel, but a single room is $160 per night. And in 1951, a luxurious 30-day steamship tour of Hawaii, at a price of $957 per person, followed the Assembly. Today we have no post-Assembly tours. Perhaps leisure time was more accessible in the very early days.

A few elements of the 1951 promotional brochure are worthy of quotations:

It is not widely known today that our general practitioner predecessors considered themselves family doctors and used that term. Although family practice did not become a specialty until 1969, and the AAGP did not undergo its name change to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) until 1971, the prime elements of our current specialty were described, discussed and taught in 1951. An entire half day of that early Assembly was devoted to a study of the family. Do we do even that much justice to the concept of “family” in family practice today, despite our specialty status and name change?

Although I mentioned our “forefathers and foremothers” above, the 1951 promotional brochure describes the “ man concerned with the broad general perspectives of medicine.” The concept of “the man” is neither politically correct nor accurate when we fast forward to the Assembly program of this year. Nearly one half of current family practice residents are women; they are the current and future providers and consumers of continuing medical education.

Here is another goal described by the 1951 promotional brochure:

The integration of family practice into the community was important then and is so today. But today, even though we espouse the notions of community and community-oriented primary care, these topics are not found frequently in our continuing medical education.

An attempt to accurately weigh the relative importance of the contrasts and similarities of two scientific assemblies 50 years apart is futile. But the enduring comparison between the scientific programs separated by 50 years is the constant role of science, family, community, compassion and competence in the continuing development of this specialty and its physicians.—daniel j. ostergaard, m.d.

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