Archive for the ‘being a physician’ Category

Quotes: On Being a Physician

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

From inability to let well alone; from too much zeal for the new and contempt for what is old; from putting knowledge before wisdom, science before art and cleverness before common sense; from treating patients as cases; and from making the cure of the disease more grievous than the endurance of the same, Good Lord, deliver us.


It is unnecessary – perhaps dangerous – in medicine to be too clever.

Sir Robert Hutchison

To throw open the mind’s door and allow diseases to enter into consideration each time that we are called to a bed side is foolish in the attempt, and impossible in the performance. Each case should lead us to arrange before the mind’s eye a selected group of reasonably probable causes for the symptoms complained of and for the signs discovered. What we select should depend upon the clues furnished us by the patient himself or by the results of our own examination.

Richard C. Cabot, MD
Differential Diagnosis, Philadelphia, WB Saunders, 1915

Each trade and profession “ridden by the routine of… craft.” “The priest becomes a form; the attorney a statute-book; the mechanic a machine; the sailor a rope of the ship.” (And the doctor an MRI scan?)

Emerson in The American Scholar, comment by Cynthia Ozick

Go to the patient, because that’s where the diagnosis is (à la Willie Sutton on why he robbed banks: “because that’s where the money is”).

William S. Dock, MD

New medicines and new methods of cure always work miracles for a while.

William Heberden

Medicine is like a woman who changes with the fashions.

Auguste Bier

Diagnosis is a system of more or less accurate guessing in which the end-point achieved is a name. These names applied to disease come to assume the importance of specific entities, whereas they are for the most part no more than insecure and therefore temporary conceptions.

Sir Thomas Lewis, Reflections of Medical Education. The Lancet, 1944

He is the best physician who is the most ingenious inspirer of hope.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge