Medicine: The A.M.A. & the U.S.A.

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The New President. But both the proper care of the aged and the A.M.A.'s concern over the threat to U.S. medicine may well turn out to be vanishing problems. The answer for both could lie in the growth of private prepayment plans, usually combined with group practice. Communities, counties and corporations are hard at work all over the U.S. spreading such plans, and the recent benison of the A.M.A. is certain to allay the objections of many balky doctors. Therein lies the significance of Leonard Larson, a man who can look at all the ferment calmly.

Larson got into medicine through the drugstore: his Norwegian immigrant father owned a pharmacy in Clarkfield. Minn. As a boy, he toiled in the store with steadily diminishing enthusiasm. "After working until midnight one Christmas Eve and then doing inventory the day after Christmas, I'd had it," he recalls. Then he fell under the influence of a "wonderful old country doctor." Now Specialist Larson concedes that "no doubt he was more wonderful as an unforgettable character than as a doctor. He used to take me hunting prairie chickens, and I'd tag along on his calls in the country. His prescriptions were marvelous concoctions of eight to ten ingredients."

At the University of Minnesota Medical School, Larson did best in bacteriology but decided, upon graduation, to get experience in general practice. He settled in Northwood, Iowa, and did not like it. largely because there was no hospital. "I spent too much time traveling to and from patients. I didn't feel that I was making the most of myself. After six months. I went back to Minnesota and went into clinical pathology."

Many pathologists never see a live patient; instead, they peer through a microscope at an excised piece of him. Larson is too social-minded for that sort of remoteness. Hired in 1924 to work at the Quain & Ramstad Clinic in Bismarck, he was North Dakota's only private-practice pathologist. He made his professional mark in diagnosing tumors, but felt that "pathologists should get out of the basement and see patients and examine them if necessary. They should be real consultants." A.M.A. duties keep him away from Bismarck more and more, but Dr. Larson still takes pride in a sharp piece of clinical pathological diagnosis.

Though Dr. Larson had been active in arranging scientific programs for his district society, it was less ambition than recruitment that started him on the way to A.M.A. leadership. A senior partner in Quain & Ramstad was the state medical society's legislative watchdog. When he retired, he put the arm on Larson. "I volunteered by means of appointment," says Larson. In the Bismarck statehouse, Dr. Larson learned the bitter way about politics: the M.D.s took a crushing defeat when they tried to keep out osteopaths and chiropractors by legislation.

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