From Medical Officers to Family Doctors: Historical and Training Paths (Historical and Pedagogical Reflections on the Italian Context)


  • Fabiola Zurlini Studio Firmano for the History of Medicine and Science, Italy
  • Andrea Vesprini Studio Firmano for the History of Medicine and Science, Italy
  • Roberto Sani Department of Education, Cultural Heritage and Tourism University of Macerata, Italy



Medical Officer, Family Doctor history, General practice training


This article reconstructs the historical path, which passes from medical officers to family doctors - today’s general practitioners - between the 19th and 20th centuries, highlighting the ju- ridical, professional and training aspects, which determined the uniqueness of these figures in a medical context. Even today, these figures are the only ones in the medical context whose training takes place outside the academic area, unlike what happens in other European countries. The key role of general practitioners in the territory and the relationship with patients, family and social context requires a rethinking about their training, taking into account the complexity of General Practice, which cannot be limited only to technical biomedical knowledge. Medical Humanities can play a strategic role for a reform in the training of general practitioners to be hopefully brought back to the academic field, in also defining all those transversal skills at a methodological level for a coherent and effective training at a professional level.