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Authors > John L. Pfenninger, MD

“I don’t think I ever attended a baby’s delivery where I didn’t experience a rush.” – John Pfenninger, MD 

Farm to Physician

My grandmother used to ride with a country doctor in a horse and buggy. There were times when the doctor would need to travel 25 or 30 miles out into the farmlands to see patients.  My grandmother lived out there, so when the doctor wouldn’t make it in time for a baby’s delivery, my grandmother would sometimes become a lay midwife. She always instilled in me that interest in just being there and doing things, in terms of taking care of people. Plus, being born and raised on a farm, we took care of the animals when they had illnesses so, medicine has always been fascinating to me. I received my college degree in biology and then went into medicine. One of the neatest things was seeing that first delivery. That was something. I don’t think I was ever at a baby’s delivery that didn’t give me a rush.

Pfenninger & Fowler’s: “Like A Step-By-Step Cookbook”

I wanted Pfenninger and Fowler’s Procedures for Primary Care to be a comprehensive book on medical procedures. Before this text, primary care doctors could go to a dermatology text or an OB-Gyn text, but those books didn’t talk about the common things that the primary care doctor sees. I really felt we needed a text with common procedures that primary care doctors do in the office or the emergency room, and that hospitalists do in the hospital. I also wanted the book to cover other issues that family docs deal with, such as billing for procedures, patient education, and consent forms.

The text is used by family docs as well as other primary care clinicians,  mid level providers, people  in the service (especially  navy corpsmen), and others . A military doctor told me once about an experience he had in the field. He said, “There was a procedure I had to do that I’d never done before, so I looked it up in your book. I laid it open beside the patient, and I said ‘Okay, we’re gonna do this.’ And I did it, and it went well because it was all there in the text, like a step-by-step a cookbook.”

New in Pfenninger & Fowler’s Procedures for Primary Care

The third edition covers about 220 different topics, while the first edition covered 140 topics, so it’s expanded a great deal. In the third edition we have a whole section on aesthetic medicine. We also expanded the hospitalist topics, such as putting in central lines. We’ve made sure the procedures are up-to-date. Our illustrations are better; there are more photos. We also put a significant amount of information online, like patient education and consent forms. So when you buy the book, there’s even more information you can access online.


John L. Pfenninger, MD is a lauded medical author, educator and lecturer in the field of procedural medicine, and President and Director of The Medical Procedures Center, PC. Dr. Pfenninger attended the University of Michigan Medical School and completed three years of advanced training in Family Practice at The University of Utah. In 1989, he established The National Procedures Institute which conducts medical seminars for physicians throughout the country.  He has taught procedural skills courses across the United States and internationally for  18 years.

Dr. Pfenninger first completed Procedures for Primary Care Physicians in 1994, which was the first such comprehensive reference text of its kind.  It was selected as one of the 37 best medical books of all time in 1998. The publication, now titled Pfenninger and Fowler’s Procedures for Primary Care, is in its third edition. He is also an editor of Dermatologic and Cosmetic Procedures in Office Practice and is the author of numerous scientific articles and book chapters.   He has been recognized with the Robert E. Bowsher Best Teacher Award, the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine Excellence in Teaching Award, and the American Academy of Family Physicians Thomas W. Johnson Award for Career Contributions to Family Medicine Education.  Dr. Pfenninger has limited his practice solely to office surgery and procedures since 1989 (