Something important was missing from the special section on American medical history that appeared in the October/November 1984 issue. The distinction between the history of the medical profession and the history of health care was not made clear.
Physicians aren’t the only professionals engaged in healing. In this century, nurses, psychologists, dentists, nutritionists, physical therapists, and a host of other health care professionals have all made important contributions.
It remains easier to market palliatives, alcohol, and tobacco in American society than it is to implement a full agenda for disease prevention and health promotion. Still, in a decade in which Americans are demanding more and more from physicians and hospital care, it’s important to understand that personal behavior, family income, and the nature of the environment are still the prime determinants of health status. There are limits to what medicine can accomplish in health care.