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History Informing Public Policy

Jim Mohr, College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of History and Knight Professor of Social Science, has been appointed to the Editorial Committee of the Federation of State Medical Boards.  The FSMB is a national umbrella organization designed to assist and to coordinate the nation’s separate state medical agencies, which license physicians and regulate most aspects of health care in their respective states.  The goal of the FSMB, which publishes major research papers as well as the Journal of Medical Regulation, is to help each of the separate state boards implement policies that promote best practices throughout the country.

Most people who serve on FSMB committees are physicians or lawyers who have served on state medical boards themselves.  But Mohr, who has published extensively on the history of medico-legal issues and testified twice before the US Senate as an expert witness on the history of reproductive rights, regards his appointment as evidence that top policy makers continue to value historical perspectives.  Knowing how certain situations came to be, and what previous policy makers tried to do, is essential to any informed and intelligent efforts to improve current policies.  “This appointment,” Mohr affirms, “represents yet another example of the many ways in which the study of history remains crucial – even directly practical — in the so-called ‘real’ world.”