« AnteriorContinuar »
need attention here. Its literary and scientific acquirements are too apparently faulty to require comment.
We who are at ork in the harness may not be able to improve ourselves very much, but it is within our power to materially aid in elevating the standard of those now pursuing, and particularly those who shall hereafter commence the study of medicine. It is not only in our power to do this, but it is a stern duty. Let the young man or woman seeking to enter our profession understand that without such preparatory work he or she cannot be admitted to its study, and that a far more liberal and extended course than is required by the majority of our medical colleges is absolutely essential to a fit preparation for the intelligent practice of medicine. Let this advice be so positive, and adherence to it so unyielding that only the worthy shall become students, and only those schools for medical education sought which offer a thorough training, and demand comprehensive and rigid tests of learning before conferring their honors. Were this achieved, what progress would a generation show in the worth and aggrandizement of our profession.
To-day the secular press refers to our medical schools as doctor factories. Such reference to a profession so important should make us shudder. Let not this state of things long exist. Let the standard of graduation be so high, and encompass so much, that to say aught to slur it shall be a reflection upon him who thus speaks. In this way only can the dignity, born of intelligence, manhood and humility, rightfully belonging to the profession be attained. The world is not without many examples of such professional grandeur, and who has not upon mingling with such, derived new inspiration, and fresh incentives to nobler action? The ways of the world are too deceptive and its processes too intricate to sanction aught but the most intelligent efforts within our reach. Let us relieve our Medical Schools of a burden which they are but slow in casting off. We are thankful that some have made much progress in the direction of a higher education, but alas, there are too many that regard quantity of patronage as more to be desired than quality.
We are sorry to think that so many are not doing all within their power in this direction. The nobler the standard of a college the brighter will be its future. This, it seems to me, is a matter of sufficient gravity to command our serious consideration.
Again, is our relation to the public so nearly perfect
in character as to commend us
to commend us as members of a profession to whom honor is due? Are we free from all the deceits made use of by pretenders, and are we free from many, important sins of omission? Which does the public esteem of the greatest importance, the physician's counsel, or his medicine, and is it willing to abide by his advice whether or not it excludes medication? Which does it regard as the greatest factor in the cure of disease and the healing of wounds, nature or art? Does not the public expect of us more knowledge than we possess, and more aid in the cure of disease than we can render? The answer to these questions by us all will doubtless be the same, and if it be so, there is something wrong. And inasmuch as medical knowledge is acquired by few only outside of practitioners, is it not fair to assume that the responsibility for the great error in public opinion lies largely with us? I will not say wholly for there is without question, a considerable amount of faulty and vicious teaching on the part of the ignorant and dishonest, who are willing to prostitute themselves in any manner whatsoever, for pecuniary recompense. It is not these flagrant evils which I desire now to discuss, but those less glaring but of vast importance in their effect upon the general character of the profession.
When we find ourselves unable to determine the nature of ailments, are we as ready to honestly express our ignorance, as we are to make known our intelligence? Are we in the habit of enlightening the sick or those about them to the extent of our ability, as to the nature, course, and character of their bodily infirmities, the importance of care and surroundings, and above all, the truth as to what may and what may not be expected from medication? Do we endeavor to enlighten them upon the principles governing their care, and court their intelligent aid, or allow them to rely only upon fragmentary knowledge? Are we quick to correct the impression that medication is responsible for some favorable change, when it is not, and to limit the faith or belief in its good results to the actual good accomplished by it. Are we as willing to correct an unjust criticism upon another as we would wish him to be for us? Do we use sufficient care when called after another that in adopting our own method of management it shall not in itself at all reflect
upon the practice of our predecessor, or if a radical change be advisable make it understood in a spirit of true manhood? Are we in a habit of prescribing some form of medication, when we ourselves cannot render any proper reason for so doing?
In a large number of instances, in which does the principal action of the remedy used, most clearly transpire, in the physical economy of the sick, or the physician's mind? Are we observing with sufficient accuracy as to the real, or supposed worth of the remedies which we prescribe? The fact that greater or less success has followed the various methods of treatments is a significant one. How often do we look hopefully for the manifestation of effects attributed to remedies, only to be disappointed. Dr. Samuel Wilks in a recent address, in speaking of the claims for Phosphorus says that opposite it he has written “humbug"; that whilestrychnia is, vaunted as the remedy for paralysis, he has no remembrance of ever having seen any good results from its use for this condition ; that it is not more remedies which we want, but a better knowledge of how to use those which we now possess. Are we not fostering the erroneous belief on the majority of people that more or less medication is necessary for recovery, by advising the same, whether required or not? In short, do we cheerfully and gladly endeavor to acquaint the people concerning the nature and treatment of disease with as much candor and intelligence as we ourselves possess?
Few of us can answer these questions in the affirmative, and if we cannot, we are falling far short of all that lies within our power to honor our profession before the world. We can at best be only students, with a present advancement which aftords us only a measure of comfort as we cast our minds toward the realm of the still unknown, yet we can be humble and honest enough to court the kind and respectful judgment of men. I am firmly of the opinion that we are largely responsible for the foothold which quackery has in the world to-day. Honesty is not the policy of quacks, or patent medicines, and a fair amount of it, together with intelligence, will in time destroy the foundations upon which they stand. Someone may say that this conception is impracticable and cannot be executed without too great cost, as the people prefer to be humbugged. The answer to this is, that no valuable truths come to be accepted in this world, without the price of much sacrifice; let us consider the sacrifice a duty which we owe to our profession, and do it with a regret only that we cannot do more. And again, are we doing ourselves justice in the attitude we assume toward the acquirement of new knowledge? Do we investigate the claims of progress in a careful, thoughtful, businesslike manner, with a heart open to welcome all that is good, and a mind to scrutinize carefully as to the validity of the claims. It seems to me that we will have to plead guilty to swinging from one extreme to the other in a manner unbecoming to intelligent men. Are we not often painfully humiliated by the results which follow the acceptance of new announcements without careful observation as to the source from which they originate and the nature of their claims. And again, are there still possibilities for improvement in the character of the medical press. Is it not true that there is a large circulation of Medical Journals because of their cheapness, and that they are cheap because of their being published in the interest of manufacturers of pharmaceutical prepations. Is there reasonably good care given to the fitness of matter for publication on the part of many so-called representative organs, and do their editorial staffs consist of men with sufficient intelligence and honor to be fit moulders of medical opinions? That this is not so in all cases might be proven by mentioning the fact, that the associate editor of the Medical and Surgical Reporter of Philadelphia, wrote to the chairmen of our committees for this year offering to furnish them reports for a named consideration. Is it not our duty to examine well into the character of any and all medical literature before sanctioning it by our subscriptions.
There is undoubtedly another fault which exists, and which cannot perhaps be wholly avoided, yet a most defacing one upon the value of professional opinion. It is the frequent and often great discrepancy in the opinions given by different physicians, upon the same case. Two things suggest themselves which may promise at least some improvement. They are, that a greater amount of care be given to diagnosis, and a little more modesty exercised in pronouncing the same.
In this discussion no attempt has been made to touch upon all the points of possible improvement, but only to speak of the salient ones, and endeavor to stimulate an ambition for a far higher standard in our profession. The commonwealth of Wisconsin is one upon which we look with pride. We are proud of her wealth in soil, in forests, in quarries, and in minerals. We are proud of her growing industries, and her commerce. We are proud of her educational advancement, and let us so conduct ourselves as to secure just pride in her medical profession. In the language of the immortal Holmes: