“It helps a [person] immensely to be a bit of a hero-worshipper,” Sir William Osler remarked in 1889, “and the stories of the lives of the masters of medicine do much to stimulate our ambition and rouse our sympathies.” But this famous physician also wrote: “It cannot be too often or too forcibly brought home to us that the hope of the profession is with the [people] who do its daily work in general practice.”
In those two sentences, Osler summed up the paradoxical way we think about medicine’s practitioners. We are fascinated by the “masters of medicine” doing battle in the operating theatre. Yet the essential work of general practitioners and other primary care doctors — paediatricians, geriatricians, palliative care specialists — often goes unremarked and poorly rewarded. Performing quadruple bypass surgery has an audience impact many magnitudes higher than writing a prescription or urging the lifestyle changes that might prevent surgery in the first place…
Read the full article in Inside Story.