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Year : 2000  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 307-316

Educating Doctors to Provide Counseling and Preventive Care: Turning 20th Century Professional Values Head Over Heels

Center for Policy Studies in Family Practice and Primary Care, Washington, DC, USA

Correspondence Address:
Susan Dovey
Center for Policy Studies in Family Practice and Primary Care, American Academy of Family Physicians, 2023 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Internationally, 20th century medical education concentrated on equipping new graduates with technical skills and pushing the frontiers of technological sciences to extend and enhance life in ways unimaginable in previous decades. In the 21st century, health services are expected to be characterized not by the "fix-up-whenthings-go-wrong" type of care that 20th century physicians have become so good at, but by preventive care that can obviate much of the need for these fix-up services. Enabling doctors to deal with the different health care needs of future patients will require a values shift in medical education. The United States leads the world in per capita health care expenditure yet trails in many important measures of health status. It epitomizes many elements of both the good and the bad in current medical education that may be less obvious in other countries that are less wealthy, less technologically oriented, and less committed to individual freedoms. In this paper we use the US as a case study to argue the need for a fundamental shift in values away from the 20th century emphasis on disease, specialization and treatment, and towards health, generalization and prevention. We draw on data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey to compare roles of primary care physicians and other of. ce-based medical specialties in delivering preventive health care. We also estimate the cost of providing preventive care in terms of physician time. Finally, we contemplate how medical education values must change in the US and other countries if 21st century physicians are to be prepared to meet the health care needs of their communities.

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