Dr. Wilburn H. Weddington Sr., professor emeritus of clinical family medicine at Ohio State University, finds the current trend in general practice troubling.
first practice in Marietta, Ga., in 1950, where he
treated patients in mostly rural areas and delivered babies by lamplight.
second practice in the Mount Vernon Avenue area here in Columbus, after being discharged as a captain in the U.S. Air Force
Weddington mainly cared for inner-city residents before joining the OSU College of Medicine in 1971.
During the beginning of his
career, primary-care physicians comprised well over half of American doctors, and Weddington
field being highly respected, as medical students were excited about going into family care.
"As a young doctor in the '50s, there was dignity in practicing family medicine, and I always put the needs of my patients first," he
"Even back then I did not make a huge salary, but I absolutely enjoyed my work."
saw the numbers of family doctors beginning to decrease in the 1960s, he
also experienced some of the difficulties that family physicians currently face, such as heavier patient loads, but he
best to accommodate as many people as he
could, and he
never turned anyone away who could not pay.
credits the 1965 passage of Medicare and Medicaid for enabling him to continue to provide treatment, since most of his
patients were elderly and low-income.
believes that to draw more young doctors into primary care, there must be incentives, and he
thinks the Obama
administration is on the right track with measures in the health-reform law that include higher payments to primary-care physicians who treat both Medicare and Medicaid patients.
also is optimistic about increased federal funding in the bill that will repay a portion of loans for medical students who opt to practice family medicine in underserved areas.
maintains that now is the critical time to address the dwindling numbers of general practitioners, since more patients are in need of the care they provide.
"Family physicians are the front line of defense in diagnosing diseases before they become fatal," he