This film is part of Free

Men of Medicine

Should Uncle Sam pay for public medical care? This absorbing film champions the work of the American medical profession, while highlighting the lack of aid for the underprivileged.

Documentary 1938 15 mins


One of the first films in the March of Time series to focus on a single subject, this compelling issue presents the case for greater federal funding of American medical care. Structured around the dramatised story of a young doctor’s journey from medical school to general practice and hospital work, the film covers the social and scientific aspects of the profession, highlighting in particular the vulnerability of the rural black community but ending on a note of optimism.

This was one of producer Louis De Rochement’s favourite films and it is easy to see why. In its fourteen minutes it presents a multi-faceted picture of the US medical profession, covering the issues in a fair-minded way, but highlighting the lack of care available to the poorest members of society. The arguments in favour of tax-funded medical care (put forward by Chief of US Public Health Service Thomas Parran Jr) are countered by Morris Fishbein of the American Medical Association, who fears the profession becoming a subservient tool of government bureaucracy. Despite this, the film is tempered by an optimism and faith in scientific progress that is characteristic of the series as a whole.