Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Why study history? (in 25 words or less)

This must be one of the most succinct rationales for historical awareness ever recorded. And it's specific to the history of medicine to boot! What better way to start a day?
That the modern doctor should be a cultured individual is a foregone conclusion. The basis of all culture is a knowledge of history. Therefore the cultured man of medicine can combine a professional necessity with his inherent desire for culture by studying medical history.
From the Preface to Bernard J. Ficarra's Essays on historical medicine (1948)

Resisting the nearly overwhelming desire to parse this assertion phrase by phrase, we will merely share the volume's table of contents:
  1. American pioneers in abdominal surgery
  2. Amputations and prostheses through the centuries
  3. Famous cripples of the past
  4. Surgical references in Shakespeare
  5. The evolution of blood transfusion
  6. Walter Reed at Kings County Hospital
  7. An historical view of pathology
  8. Famous autopsies in history

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