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THE FAMILY PHYSICIAN OF THE FUTURE. The course of development which lies before the general practitioner is a problem which (says the Lancet) can hardly fail to interest the majority of his neighbours, both within and without the pale of his pro- fession, almost as much as himself. Is he to remain as heretofore the man of wide intellignce and of many resources, or is he doomed to labour in a sphere narrowed on every side by the encroachments of specialism, the scene of his former victories divided, subdivided, and allotted to men of one idea ? To the latter suggestion we have no reply but an em- phatic negative. Similar in its purport, we are pleased to observe, is the treatment of this question by Dr. Andrew Smith in an address read before the Academy of Medicine of New York. The present comparative seclusion of medi- cine among the liberal professions he ascribes to a want of public spirit in dealing with many matters affecting the common health rather than that of the individual alone. If it would appear in its natural position as an influential reforming force, a change in this direction is necessary. It must, he assures us, concern itself with a variety of. human interests with which mere surgical skill and the chemistry of prescriptions have little to do. Generality of the broadest kind should characterise the views of its members, whose representative will be found in a family practitioner possessing an ex- tensive knowledge of the causes of disease and the means of its prevention. He is to be a custodian of the health of families, and will occupy with regard to them a position similar to that of the solicitor with re- ference to property. Itshallbehisdutytokaep an exact record of the life-history of his patients,and to guide their course in life in- accordance with the information thus acquired. The scheme is, doubtless, an attractive one: it presents alike to the practitioner and his charge a prospect of life-long mutual benefit, and it promises to science a means of accurate investigation. In discussing the merits of any such project as this, however, we must ask ourselves how far its efficient execution can be relied on; and we are bound to confess that here, it seems to us, the credit of theory has been somewhat too largely drawn upon. It is hardly to be expected that any considerable number of families will give themselves into the hand of a medical adviser to be continuously guided and con- trolled, even in the interest of their physical well being. The question of expense alone must limit the application of such a plan to the case of a relative minority rather wealthy than poor. There is about it, also, too much of the sanitarian, too little of the medical element; and we must remember that, notwithstanding the recent advances of hygiene, the power of therapeutics will not soon, if ever, cease to hold an important posi- tion. While, therefore, we respect the scientific accuracy and the preventive skill of the promised physician, we should ourselves prefer and expect to be represented by one of somewhat more practical, though allied, character. The general practitioner of the future, we consider, should still essentially re- semble his predecessors. More learned, he certainly will be, as well as more skilful in details of practice, because endowed with greater advantages of training but he will also, doubtless, like them, continue to treat the whole man by prevention and by cure, and will be limited in the exercise of his functions only by necessary considerations of time and opportunity.

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