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Fam Pract Manag. 1999;6(2):17

To the Editor:

Until the early 1960s, medicine was relatively simple and was practiced mostly by general practitioners, such as the one portrayed by television's Marcus Welby, MD. With the passing of time and the increased availability of diagnostic tools, medicine has become big business, and there is less time for individual compassion. Patients have become “consumers” and physicians “providers,” having no time or desire to be part of the patient's life. Computer scheduling takes the place of “Come down if you don't feel well,” and our credibility and standing in society has disappeared. We have become money-oriented businessmen in the eyes of the public.

With CAPNA [the nurse practitioner practice mentioned in the article], something from the old days is back. They take the time to listen to patients, which used to be the secret of our success.

Indeed medicine has become very complicated and expensive, and there is probably no place for Dr. Welby anymore. But having done it successfully for more than 40 years, I am a firm believer that there is a place and a need for the compassion and personal relationships we used to have with our patients.

While it isn't easy to recreate some aspects of the “good old days,” not trying to at all will certainly eliminate the need for the family practice of today.

Editor's note: This letter is a response to “Nurse Practitioners: Growing Competition for Family Physicians?” in our October 1998 issue.


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