A different kind of draft

Published December 8, 2004 9:20PM (EST)

Discussion of reinstating the draft tends to bring to mind Vietnam-era images of infantry units beefing up with young men fresh out of high school. According to a Wall Street Journal article published Wednesday, however, the young men and women who may have the most reason to be worried right now about being conscripted for military service are the ones just out of med school.

"The Selective Service System said it is reviewing a little-known contingency plan for drafting physicians, nurses and other health professionals, causing concern at the American Medical Association, which voted yesterday to communicate with the agency on the issue."

"People are concerned that it might be a doctors' draft," said Sandra F. Olson, chairwoman of the council of medical education for the AMA.

"If authorized, about 36,000 health-care workers could be selected from 60 specialties, including anesthesiology, mental health, emergency medicine and neurology. Akin to a general conscription, selection would start with the youngest registrants."

The recent talk about drafting medical professionals may not be a coincidence. By any standard, November was the most bloody month of the Iraq occupation to date. The Pentagon reported that 136 American military personnel died as a result of the conflict, and nearly 1,200 were wounded in action.

By Jeff Horwitz

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