Medicine: Paramedics: New Doctors' Helpers

COMPOUNDING the doctor shortage, says the Carnegie Commission, is the absurd fact that "expensively trained physicians are performing tasks that could well be carried out by less broadly trained personnel." Such tasks include taking the patient's history and blood pressure—chores that a doctor need not do. The U.S. has an ample supply of people, including 250,000 retired nurses, many of whom would gladly help doctors concentrate on more serious matters. Each year, the armed forces discharge 30,000 highly trained medical corpsmen, including seasoned veterans of battlefield medicine in Viet Nam. But in many areas, the only civilian medical job open to...

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