The Community as Patient: Ethical Principles for the Practice of Population Medicine

Halley S. Faust, MD, MPH, MA


September 28, 2012

In This Article

What Is a Preventive Medicine Physician, Anyway?

In 1988, Suzanne Dandoy, a past president of the American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM), published a seminal article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, "Have You Ever Practiced Medicine?"[1] In the article, Dandoy wrote,

That same question has been asked of me in many ways since I graduated from medical school 28 years ago. Sometimes the words are "When did you decide to leave medicine and go into public health?" "Do you miss never having practiced medicine?" or "What made you decide to go into public health?"

Dandoy continued,

Even now, most physicians involved in clinical practice have only a vague comprehension of what a physician who is board certified in preventive medicine/public health does.

Readers of this article are likely to have a clearer understanding of preventive medicine. Preventive medicine physicians are trained in both clinical and population medicine; they straddle the worlds of dyadic, patient-physician medicine and the more broadly based practices of health policy, epidemiology, economics, insurance, management, the environment, and other population-oriented approaches to healthcare. Practicing population medicine is one form of the practice of medicine.[1]