Prologue to Profiles in Primary Care

Fitzhugh Mullan, MD Contributing EditorHealth Affairs/Project HopeBethesda, MarylandClinical Professor, Pediatrics and Public HealthGeorge Washington University, Washington, DCStaff Physician, Upper Cardozo Community Health Center, Washington, DC


Medscape General Medicine. 2001;3(1) 


The publication of 2 profiles entitled "Neil Calman, MD; Urban Warrior; New York, New York" and "Therese Hidalgo, RN, FNP; Proud to Be a Nurse; Belen, New Mexico" continues a series of profiles of primary care practitioners appearing in Medscape General Medicine. The series began with a piece entitled "His Father's Son"[1] profiling David Loxterkamp, MD, a family physician in Belfast, Maine. That piece, as well as the current ones, are part of a larger project of oral history that I have undertaken over the last several years. The purpose of the project and the profiles is to characterize the lives of primary care practitioners at the turn of the 21st century.

A full description of that project, as well as its rationale, was published in a commentary in conjunction with "His Father's Son," which appeared on November 1, 1999.[2] The stories of Dr. Calman and Ms. Hidalgo, as the others that will appear in the series, are told in their own words. I had the privilege of sitting with these men and women with a Dictaphone and listening to them talk about their careers and their lives. Working from the transcripts of those conversations, I have pared down their words to read as a single story told in their own voices. These profiles, then, are the reflections of a series of physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants immersed in providing healthcare and teaching the next generation of healers.

Fifteen of these profiles, along with an introductory essay entitled "A Manifesto for Primary Care" will appear in a book entitled Big Doctoring: Primary Care in America (Fitzhugh Mullan, Milbank Fund/University of California Press), which will be published in late 2001. Transcripts of the oral histories can be found at the National Library of Medicine. I wish to express my appreciation of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Milbank Memorial Fund for the support they have provided for this project.