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No group in the College reflects the uncertainty of the times more than the prospective medical students. The government recently suspended for the time being its plans for letting them go through medical school uninterrupted; and neither they nor the medical profession can tell what will come next. Since we cannot fight a long range war without doctors, the Government should assure these men that their training will not be stopped.
Certainly the Army officials know that there is a dearth of doctors in America. This was brought home forcibly when they could find few doctors with practices so small that they were willing to consider positions in the pre-draft army. And with the advent of the draftees, the Army has had to strip hospitals of their internes and take men out of medical schools in their second years. Even if its supply of doctors were adequate for present plans, the necessity of obtaining replacements should not be overlooked. The rapid turnover of doctors in front line trenches and hospitals subject to bombing is one of the outstanding features of the war abroad.
In civilian life, too, one of the most destructive commentaries on our boast of equal opportunity has been the lack of doctors and medical facilities for the greater part of our population. It has been shown that our much-publicized surplus of doctors in urban centers could not begin to take care of those in need of treatment. When to all this we add the consideration that wartime rationing and privation invariably result in a lowering of the public health and often result in plagues, the picture is not made prettier.
These are old facts and familiar, but our officials must not be blinded to them by the demands of short-sighted expediency. The pre-medical students now in college represent long years of study even now. It would be criminal to stop their training now that they are nearing its end. We must remember our last war, when pseudo-medical attendants produced thousands of our present-day dope addicts by shooting them full of morphine whenever they cried out while lying wounded in Army hospitals. Britain learned her lesson when she slackened off on her medical schools in the first rush to arms and then had to move fast to get them back on a normal basis.
It is rumored that the President will address the college students of the country this week urging them to "keep their shirts on." He can show them that the Government is keeping its shirt on, too.
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