Belatedly, the family doctor is being formally honored by his professional colleagues. The American Medical association has picked "the family doctor of the year" and bestowed on him a gold medal and a fitting citation.
It is probably more than a coincidence that the first family doctor to be so honored was also a country doctor, who had ministered to the ill in a sparsely populated, rugged and isolated mountain community in Colorado for 21 years. It is under such circumstances that the family doctor must be at his valiant, untiring, resourceful and unselfish best. It was of such a doctor that Walter B. Pitkin remarked:
"A country doctor needs more brains to do his work passably than the 50 greatest industrialists in the world require."
But the family doctor, for all his responsibilities, has gradually been relegated to the position of the Cinderella in his professional family. The specialists, the research men, the teachers and the consultants have become the glamor [sic] boys. They have reaped the lion's share of honors and publicity and the pretty scrolls in Latin and gold seals to decorate their office walls. The specialists have taken the cream of the financial rewards, too.
The family doctor has been left with the drudgery, the routine, the minimum and uncertain income. The undying loyalty and respect of his patients has been about the highest compensation to which he could aspire.
Now, once a year at least, a family doctor is to enjoy the professional attention and acclaim for a fleeting moment. A news dispatch says that the American Medical association has instituted this annual reward to help "restore the family doctor to his traditional position in American life."
The good family doctor, the kind who was pictured in Sir Luke Fildes' famous painting (shown above) and the kind that most of us remember from childhood days, deserves this recognition and much more. With better recognition and much more. With better recognition of its importance, the role of the family doctor - the family friend and mentor - may prove more attractive to the bright and ambitious young graduates of our medical schools.1
2."Doctoring in Middle Park from 1927 to 1947," http://www.skyhidailynews.com/article/20090119/NEWS/901199972
By Joel Willems,
Curator, Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear