Albert Schweitzer, William Carlos Williams, and Managed Care

  • Jack Coulehan Director and Professor, Institute for Medicine in Contemporary Society; Staff, Health Sciences Center, State University of New York at Stonybrook, Stonybrook, NY


In this narrative I try to describe the influences, such as Albert Schweitzer, William Carlos Williams, Harold Johnson, and others, that shaped my medical career, my thinking, my poetry-and my perspective on primary care and medical education. The central themes of my narrative reflect on the importance of scientific thinking, patient-physician relationships, and empathy, gentleness and self effacement as core values in medicine, both in caring for patients and promoting a collegial work environment. The narrative examines my understanding of the current cynicism about the future of medical virtue; and I hypothesize that the rapid changes in the medical system within the 1990's in the long run may be beneficial for the future of generalist practice and human values in medicine.

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