I can easily remember kindly Dr. Bender, the stereotypical Marcus Welby physician who came to our house, in a Green Acres burb, and paid a visit to me in bed when I had a fever or some childhood ailment. I remember his stethoscope and black bag.

Sometimes he wrote out a prescription on his Rx pad which was filled by the friendly local pharmacist, who had a tiny lending library in the back. I think my parents paid via Blue Cross Blue Shield, and that was the end of it–not once was I required to stay in the hospital overnight.

That was a very different world back then, postwar America. The population was about half what it is today. It was a more cohesive, coherent, optimistic world. Kids didn’t ride tricycles wearing a helmet and doctors didn’t expect to be sued over a broken toenail. People didn’t expect to be victims when they walked out their front door.

That world is gone. You can’t bring it back though you might replicate it in small communities. Perhaps one of the reasons for the emergence of Big Pharma (no one called the local drugstore that back them), is that pills are a common language in medicine, crossing all boundaries and disciplines (counting health supplements). They are easy to dispense and easy to take. They are the star of medicine on an industrial scale. They do wonders in many cases, do damage in others, and are not the end-all of personal health. In the limits of Big Pharma, physicians like yourself are exploring new boundaries, on the one hand (sometimes new old disciplines), and going back to the basics, on the other. We certainly live in a time of change.

Comment posted on the article “The Family Physician of the Future”, by Reid Blackwelder, M.D., The Atlantic – 6-24-11. By Hudson Owen