Plow, town, and gown: The politics of family practice in 1960s America

Dominique A Tobbell

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4 Scopus citations


In the 1960s, general practitioners organized themselves into a statebased nationwide political movement that lobbied state legislators and statefunded medical schools to create departments of family practice. They framed their calls in the context of the national shortages of primary care physicians by arguing that those medical schools that received state funding had an obligation to the state to train sufficient numbers of primary care physicians to ensure the health care needs of the state's residents would be met. As this article reveals, two defining features of this activism were rural politics and the politics of town and gown. The history of family practice thus introduces a new dimension to the familiar dyad of town and gown relations: the plow-rural physicians who brought to the medical politics of the post-World War II United States a distinctive and powerful set of political, social, and economic interests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)648-680
Number of pages33
JournalBulletin of the History of Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 30 2013


  • Family medicine
  • Family practice
  • General practice
  • Medical education
  • Rural medicine
  • Town-gown


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