Andy Rooney: We Need More Family Doctors

Has The Practice of Medicine Become Too Specialized?

CBS All Access
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This commentary was first published on April 25, 2010.

There's a lot in the newspapers these days about health care reform but I think they ought to be more specific and talk about something we all need: one all-purpose doctor.

There's just no doubt we have an acute shortage of what we used to call "family physicians."

We need more medical schools that graduate doctors who specialize in everything and nothing - the whole body, not just one part of it.

The practice of medicine has become too specialized, I think. Several years ago I had surgery on my right wrist. The doctor was very good. Two years later my left hand started to hurt so I went back to the doctor but I found out he only worked on right wrists. I mean, you talk about specializing.

We all need a doctor who'd give us a complete physical check-up for everything - kidney stones, cancer, lung problems, eyesight, even our hearing. They're all part of our one body.

A good friend of mine whose wife had a hip replacement was having trouble with a knee he hurt years ago, and he decided he might need a knee replacement.

I asked if he was going to his wife's orthopedic surgeon.

"No" my friend said in a way that suggested I was dumb for asking.

"He doesn't do knees!!!"

Well, pardon me.

Written by Andy Rooney