Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I would probably also need a jar of leeches

For my medical communication class, we are reading an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association from 1927. It is so beautifully written that it pains me to know that I can never be an old-timey doctor. Here are just the first two sentences:

It is probably fortunate that systems of education are constantly under the fire of general criticism, for if education were left solely in the hands of teachers the chances are good that it would soon deteriorate. Medical education, however, is less likely to suffer from such stagnation, for whenever the lay public stops criticizing the type of modern doctor, the medical profession itself may be counted on to stir up the stagnant pool and cleanse it of its sedimentary deposit.

The author, Dr. Francis W. Peabody (he even has an old-fashioned name), drops an uncontested smack-down on teachers in his first sentence and then just moves on, as if daring the reader to contradict him. Further on, there are also several references to using a "roentgen ray" for diagnosis and sending patients home with a "tonic." If I had a time machine, I would grab a tweed suit, a leather medicine bag, and a pair of tiny glasses and head back to an age when medicine was both delightfully charming and tremendously insane.

1 comment:

  1. Thought of you: