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Medicine and Public Policy |

Physician Manpower Expansionism: A Policy Review

BERNARD S. BLOOM, Ph.D.; and OSLER L. PETERSON, M.D., M.P.H.
[+] Article and Author Information

Grant support: in part by Contract 231-76-0034, Bureau of Health Resources Development, Health Resources Administration; and by grants from the American College of Surgeons, the Commonwealth Fund, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Walnut Medical Charitable Trust.

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Bernard S. Bloom, Ph.D.; Tri-NEB Building S-X Floor 2L, University of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, PA 19104.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


©1979 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1979;90(2):249-256. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-90-2-249
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A lack of national health goals has allowed physician manpower policy to be dominated by an expansionist philosophy. Scarce resources have been channeled into the production of specialist physicians trained to provide complex and expensive care for uncommon diseases, using other scarce and expensive resources and adding to the steep rise in medical care costs. Society seems to want access to primary care—a lack it views with dismay—and simultaneously fears increasing costs of care. Lack of access plus high cost might lead to rash implementation of other inappropriate policies. Success of policy decisions is pure serendipity if made without reliable and relevant information or based on inappropriate data, such as opinions alone. If information is unavailable, then physician manpower decisions should be delayed or, if made, implemented cautiously.

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