This chapter reflects on stories by physicians who want what Anatole Broyard wants: for their relationships with their patients to be beautiful in some way. The chapter chooses four physicians—Abraham Verghese, Rafael Campo, Lori Alvord, and David Hilfiker. These doctors reached their career potential long after physicians regularly made house calls, and long enough after the sky's-the-limit medical boom of the 1960s and 1970s, when the professional power of medicine may have enjoyed its historical zenith. Their medical world is epitomized by two phenomena that became prominent in the 1980s: managed care and AIDS. The circumscription of physician autonomy effected by managed care is exacerbated by the uncertainty of the AIDS pandemic, which has stretched the limits of medicine's capacity to care and become a metaphor of the limits of medical power, or hubris, to control disease.
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