July 28, 2009
AMA president Dr. J. James Rohack in his article “Reform needs a more rational insurance purchasing system” (AMedNews, July 27) repeated Sir William Osler’s warning that physicians’ “rivalry and mistrust” towards one another was shameful. This is timely and important advice.
Unfortunately, our specialty societies are the main contributors to this internecine tension. Rivalry and mistrust has steadily worsened since Sir William Osler first reflected on them in 1875. They not only undermine solidarity among doctors but have also limited their abilities to provide a physician workforce in touch with the needs of society. This is most apparent in the area of primary care.
Allowing itself to become infatuated with specialism, the profession has failed to nurture general practice. Overshadowed and pushed aside by specialty medicine for decades, primary care is almost at the tipping point of no return.
Whether or not primary care will be saved will be the greatest test of whether Sir William Osler’s words have been heeded or not.
Edward J. Volpintesta MD