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Family medicine was officially recognized as an independent discipline and as the twentieth specialty in the USA in 1969, when the American Board of Family Practice was established.
The main achievements of the first 10 years has been the establishment of departments of family practice in two thirds of the medical schools and the growth of graduate training has advanced rapidly from a total of 290 residents in 1970 to over 6,000 in 1978. Developments in group practice, team work, and medical records have been considerable and research is expanding.
In 1976, the 50-year trend of falling numbers of family physicians in the USA was reversed for the first time and excellent progress is also being made in countering the geographical maldistribution of physicians.
The challenges for the future of family practice are different from those in the past and are discussed.