Agnier, Natalie. "Cultures in Conflict: M.D.'s and Ph.D.'s," New York Times, 24 April 1990, p.


Agnier, Natalie. "Cultures in Conflict: M.D.'s and Ph.D.'s," New York Times, 24 April 1990, p.

Physicians and researchers do not look at their jobs in the same way. The physician, a clinician,
sees his job as helping patients, curing the sick; he follows the prescription to "do something."
His orientation is to take chances in the name of helping patients. On the other hand, the
researcher is "cold" and rational. He does not work with patients, people whom he is aworn to
help. His behavior is intellectual and cerebral. He is not in a rush. He has a method.

In the biological community, there is a rift between the physician and the researcher. Each
defends its own approach as the exemplar of good or noble science. Physicians are the engineers
of biological science, they are goal-oriented, they try to get things done. They want to help their
patients. Physicians argue that scientists are ivory-tower oriented while scientists see physicians
as interlopers in the laboratory.

Researchers point out that fraud and fakery in recent science seem to be the work of M.D.'s
Physicians are seen as "free and easy" with science. Scientists are taught to question their
superiors while the physician learn to respect authority. Further exacerbating the difference:
physicians spend most of their time in training learning patient care, researchers learn laboratory

Physicians are reported here to see scientists' complaints as "sour grapes." Physicians make more
money and researchers are jealous.

In terms of consequences: doctors argue that "if it had not been for their emphasis on applied,
goal-oriented studies, there might never have been such biomedical milestones as heart
transplants and CT scans." (p. C9) "Scientists respond that basic research and its serendipitous,
meandering but always rigorous approach to discovery has, in the long run, yielded far more
insights into human disease than have single-minded searches for cancer cures and other elusive
dreams." (p. C9)