John Hickam and I discussed on many occasions the problems of medical education. We were particularly interested in the selection of students and the experiences which these students should have during medical school. We were interested in the suggestion of many authors that the base of medical education be broadened to include courses in sociology, economics, business administration, information sciences, and systems engineering. Discussion of the use of these subjects in medical education led us to examine the functions of the physicians and to define the general principles which underlie the construction of a course of study to prepare a student for the practice of medicine. This communication is the Stead summary of our discussions.
Physicians have a number of functions in our society. They diagnose and treat illness, they attempt to prevent disease, they do biomedical research, and they plan and manage systems to deliver health care.