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Editor of 'The Quotable Osler' Selects Ten Favorites

PHILADELPHIA - (January 9, 2003) Mark E. Silverman, MD, Emory University professor of medicine and a former president of the American Osler Society, was asked to select ten favorite quotes from "The Quotable Osler," recently published by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine.

Dr. Silverman edited the book with T. Jock Murray, MD, and Charles S. Bryan, MD. Each numbered paraphrase is Dr. Silverman's; they do not in each case reflect Osler's exact words. Dr. Silverman chose the following personal favorites:

1.) Care for the patient, not the disease.
Care more particularly for the individual patient than for the special features of the disease.

Address to the Students of the Albany Medical College. Albany Med Ann 1899;20:307-9.

2.) Medicine exercises your heart and your head.
The practice of medicine is an art, not a trade; a calling, not a business; a calling in which your heart will be exercised equally with your head.

The Master Word in Medicine, in Aequanimitas, 368.

3.) The grace of humility gives permanence to powers.
The Art of Detachment, the Virtue of Method, and the Quality of Thoroughness may make you students, in the true sense of the word, successful practitioners, or even great investigators; but your characters may still lack that which can alone give permanence to powers—the Grace of Humility.

Teacher and Student, in Aequanimitas, 37.

4.) To prevent disease, to relieve suffering, and to heal the sick - this is our work.
To carefully observe the phenomena of life in all its phases, normal and perverted, to make perfect that most difficult of all arts, the art of observation, to call to aid the science of experimentation, to cultivate the reasoning faculty, so as to be able to know the true from the false—these are our methods. To prevent disease, to relieve suffering and to heal the sick—this is our work.

Chauvinism in Medicine, in Aequanimitas, 267.

5.) Appreciate the comic side of life.
The comedy, too, of life will be spread before you, and nobody laughs more often than the doctor at the pranks Puck plays upon the Titanias and the Bottoms [referring to Shakespeare's "A Midsummer's Night Dream"] among his patients. The humorous side is really almost as frequently turned towards him as the tragic. Lift up one hand to heaven and thank your stars if they have given you the proper sense to enable you to appreciate the inconceivably droll situations in which we catch our fellow creatures.

The Student Life, in Aequanimitas, 405.

6.) Recognize the poetry of the commonplace.
Nothing will sustain you more potently than the power to recognize in your humdrum routine, as perhaps it may be thought, the true poetry of life—the poetry of the commonplace, of the ordinary man, of the plain, toil-worn woman, with their loves and their joys, their sorrows and their griefs.

The Student Life, in Aequanimitas, 404-5.

7.) The master-word in medicine is work.
I propose to tell you the secret of life as I have seen the game played, and as I have tried to play it myself.… Though a little one, the master-word looms large in meaning. It is the open sesame to every portal, the great equalizer in the world, the true philosopher's stone, which transmutes all the base metal of humanity into gold. The stupid man among you it will make bright, the bright man brilliant, and the brilliant student steady. With the magic word in your heart all things are possible, and without it all study is vanity and vexation. The miracles of life are with it; the blind see by touch, the deaf hear with eyes, the dumb speak with fingers. To the youth it brings hope, to the middle-aged confidence, to the aged repose. True balm of hurt minds, in its presence the heart of the sorrowful is lightened and consoled. It is directly responsible for all advances in medicine during the past twenty-five centuries.… And the master-word is Work, a little one, as I have said, but fraught with momentous sequences if you can but write it on the tablets of your hearts, and bind it upon your foreheads.

The Master-Word in Medicine, in Aequanimitas, 356-7.

8.) To study without patients is not to go to sea.
To study the phenomena of disease without books is to sail an uncharted sea, while to study books without patients is not to go to sea at all.

Books and Men, in Aequanimitas, 210.

9.) Medicine is a calling, not a business.
You are in this profession as a calling, not as a business; as a calling which exacts from you at every turn self-sacrifice, devotion, love and tenderness to your fellow-men. Once you get down to a purely business level, your influence is gone and the true light of your life is dimmed. You must work in the missionary spirit, with a breadth of charity that raises you far above the petty jealousies of life.

The Reserves of Life. St. Mary's Hosp Gaz 1907;13:95-8.

10.) Don't complain unnecessarily. You may learn to consume your own smoke. The atmosphere is darkened by the murmurings and whimperings of men and women over the non-essentials, the trifles that are inevitably incident to the hurly burly of the day's routine. Things cannot always go your way. Learn to accept in silence the minor aggravations, cultivate the gift of taciturnity and consume your own smoke with an extra draught of hard work, so that those about you may not be annoyed with the dust and soot of your complaints.

The Master-Word in Medicine, in Aequanimitas, 368.

From: "The Quotable Osler," Mark E. Silverman, MD, T. Jock Murray, MD, and Charles S. Bryan, MD, published by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine.

Editor Please Note: This news release was distributed with "Enduring Wisdom from The Father of Internal Medicine: The Quotable Osler". Contact: Lynda Teer, Communications Department, ACP-ASIM; lteer@acponline.org. 215-351-2655 or 800-523-1546. Photo of Dr. Silverman, cover art (tif) available.

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