Heirs of General Practice is a frieze of glimpses of young doctors with patients of every age—about a dozen physicians in all, who belong to the new medical specialty called family practice. They are people who have addressed themselves to a need for a unifying generalism in a world that has become greatly subdivided by specialization, physicians who work with the “unquantifiable idea that a doctor who treats your grandmother, your father, your niece, and your daughter will be more adroit in treating you.”
These young men and women are seen in their examining rooms in various rural communities in Maine, but Maine is only the example. Their medical objectives, their successes, the professional obstacles they do and do not overcome are representative of any place family practitioners are working. While essential medical background is provided, McPhee’s masterful approach to a trend significant to all of us is replete with affecting, and often amusing, stories about both doctors and their charges.
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Heirs of General Practice
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When Ann Dorney was seventeen years old, she thought she might decide to become a physician. Looking for advice, she arranged an interview at a university medical center, where she was asked what subspecialty she had in mind. Had she considered neonatology? Departing in confusion, she decided instead to expand her experience as a teacher of mathematics, which, in her precocity, she already was. She had tutored other students since she was fourteen years old, and she continued to do so as an undergraduate in college. She appeared to have her future framed, but then an