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Ideas and Opinions |

Divided Labor: The Doctor as Specialist

WAYNE G. MENKE, Ph.D.
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▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Wayne G. Menke, National Academy of Sciences, 2101 Constitution Ave., Washington, D.C. 20418


Ann Intern Med. 1970;72(6):943-950. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-72-6-943
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Specialization is both a product of and a contributor to the scientific information explosion in medicine. It subdivides both doctor and patient, increases the difficulty of attaining a clear sense of medical identity for students and young physicians, and places additional strain on the traditional doctor-patient relationship. Specialization emphasizes the science of medicine and its rational processes in the treatment of disease and contributes to depersonalization, aggravates patient anxieties, and implicitly encourages quackery. It is probably the major factor disturbing traditional ethical and economic patterns in medicine, and it dominates medical education and research and medical practice, promotes jurisdictional disputes within the profession, and weakens organizational strength and professional power.

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