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Enduring Wisdom from "The Father of Internal Medicine": 'The Quotable Osler'

"To have striven, to have made an effort, to have been true to certain ideals - this alone is worth the struggle."
"Gentlemen, if you want a profession in which everything is certain you had better give up medicine."
— Sir William Osler

PHILADELPHIA - (January 9, 2003) Sir William Osler (1849-1919), considered the finest physician of the 20th century, is still widely quoted today. Yet a volume of his best writings and sayings had not been readily available until "The Quotable Osler," published December 17 by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine (ACP-ASIM).

Osler, often called "The father of internal medicine," introduced the specialty to the United States in the late 1890s, after studying it in European clinics. He reformed medical education in the 1890s, bringing students out of the classroom and into the hospital wards. Oslerian societies in United States, Canada, England and Japan still meet regularly to discuss his legacy as a physician, educator, humanist and scientist.

Mark E. Silverman, MD, one of three editors of "The Quotable Osler," said, "Osler's teachings are very much in line with the ideals of modern medicine. We still need his guidance today." Dr. Silverman, a former president of the American Osler Society, edited the book with T. Jock Murray, MD, and Charles S. Bryan, MD.

"Osler wrote about character and ideals, faith and religion, medical education, professionalism, and science. His observations on medicine and mankind are enduring and are interesting to read, even 83 years after his death. Osler's voluminous legacy of quotes can now be quickly located for an article or lecture or enjoyed at a more leisurely pace," said Silverman.

To develop the book, Dr. Silverman, professor of medicine at Emory University in Atlanta; Dr. Murray, professor of medical humanities at Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S.; and Dr. Bryan, director of The Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities at the University of South Carolina, with 35 members of the American Osler Society, sifted through collections of Osler's writings and sayings for observations "deemed to be original, wise, inspiring, educational, amusing, or of historical interest. Along the way, many little-known quotes of importance were unearthed, and others were found to have been shortened into aphorisms that are now restored to their full significance," they write in the book's preface.

There are 812 quotes in all, preceded by short, descriptive phrases, and followed by references. The quotes are grouped into nine areas: Personal Qualities; The Art and Practice of Medicine; The Medical Profession; Diagnosis; Disease, Specific Illnesses, Lifestyle, Drugs; Medical Education; Men and Women, Aging, History; Science and Truth; and Faith, Religion, Melancholy, Death. Photos and portraits of Osler are included.

The 6-by-9 inch hardback book, 320 pages, is priced at $27. for members of ACP-ASIM and $30. for nonmembers. To order "The Quotable Osler" by phone, contact ACP-ASIM Customer Service at 800-523-1546, ext. 2600; or 215-351-2600. By e-mail: custserv@acponline.org. Web site.

Sir William Osler was born in Ontario in 1849 and graduated from McGill University in 1872. He taught, practiced and performed research at McGill University and at the University of Pennsylvania. At 40, in 1889, he was named the first Chief of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University. Osler's "Principles and Practice of Medicine," published in 1892, sold more than 500,000 copies and was the standard medical textbook for over 50 years. In 1904, Osler accepted the Regius Chair of Medicine at Oxford. He was conferred a baronetcy by King George V in 1911. Osler lived to the age of 70. His ashes are interred in the Osler Library of the History of Medicine at McGill University.

The American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine (ACP-ASIM) is the nation's largest medical specialty society, with more than 115,000 internal medicine physicians and medical students. Internists are specialists in the prevention, detection and treatment of illnesses that primarily affect adults. ACP-ASIM's publishing program includes Annals of Internal Medicine, electronic products, and books for the medical community and general reader.

Notes to Editor: See enclosures "The Life of Sir William Osler," and "Editor Selects Ten Personal Favorites." Book cover art and Dr. Silverman photos available electronically. Call 215-351-2655, or 800-523-1546, ext. 2655; e-mail lteer@acponline.org (Lynda Teer, ACP-ASIM Communications Department).

For a review copy of "The Quotable Osler," contact Alicia Dillihay of the ACP-ASIM Books Department at 215-351-2618; or 800-523-1546, ext. 2618.

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