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Is There A Doctor In The House?

This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

Is there a doctor in the house? Pretty soon there won't be.

A brand new survey of fourth year medical students finds that only two percent of them are interested in primary care internal medicine. There will be plastic surgeons galore, but nary a doctor to call when you feel really sick.

The students say the reason they don't want to become family doctors is the pay and paperwork.

Not enough of the former, and too much of the latter. A young woman I know who is a senior in college just decided not to go to medical school and is entering a much shorter program to become a physician's assistant.

She told me that's where the real medicine is being practiced. Another friend of mine runs a program called volunteers in medicine. Retired doctors work in super-low-cost clinics serving the poor and uninsured.

They do it, they told me, because without the insurance hassles, the high overhead and bureaucratic nightmare of HMOs, they could actually serve their patients and fall in love with medicine again.

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