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Medicine's Historical Role Models?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - DO' started by Ferrismonk, May 14, 2008.

  1. Ferrismonk

    Ferrismonk ASA Member 10+ Year Member

    Dec 11, 2006
    I've been doing a LOT of reading before I start med school this summer (the last chance I'll get to read for fun in a while I gather) and I've come to a weird realization when it comes to famous historical medical figures. Just about every single figure I've read about who has contributed greatly to the advance of medicine in the last 2000 years or so hasn't really been someone I'd even want to talk to. And no, Hippocrates doesn't count since he lived around 400BC. (Although he's credited with the 4 humor theory of medicine)

    Here's a short list:

    Galen: He supported the 4 humors theory and his anatomical texts were based on animals (and stated things like the heart had 3 ventricles, the liver had 5 lobes, and the spleen emptied into the stomach). These errors persisted for over 1500 years.

    Vesalius: He was an unrepentant grave robber. He is rumored to have wrestled with wild dogs in a graveyard at night for human bones to complete his human skeleton. When he couldn't get a partially-decomposed corpse to work on, he often did vivisections on animals (dissection of live animals without anesthetic).

    Paracelsus: He was extremely arrogant (the word bombastic comes from his middle name, Bombastus). He also believed that diseases came about from poisons from the stars.

    Harvey: Also an avid vivsectionist (over a 100 different types of animals).

    Osler: Although this one is harder to criticize, he believed that if you were a doctor, medicine should become your life and to heck with any personal life you may have (famously saying that a doctor's wife would be glad to sacrifice her share to support your work).

    There are numerous others I could cite as well. I suppose it isn't that hard to believe considering that modern anatomy was only really perpetuated in the 1800s, same for surgical anesthesia, x-rays didn't arrive until 1895 and penicillin didn't arrive until the 1940s. But since medicine is supposed to have a rich tradition steeped in the healing arts and all that, you'd think that we'd have more people that we could put on a wall and be truly proud of.

    Although there are a few nice guys in medical history, Leeuwenhoek and Jenner for example, they were more scientists than physicians. Without going into the considerable advances that medicine has made over the years (especially the last 100 years), does anyone know of a smart, compassionate, driven, well-rounded, and dare I say nice doctor that has changed medicine's paradigm for the better?
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  3. Old_Mil

    Old_Mil Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Nov 19, 2004

    Yesterday, on cable they had some show talking about black holes. Someone on the show mentioned the possibility of bacteria hitching a ride on debris from comets and making it to earth. So - assuming the guy wasn't an extra from "Hunting for Nessie" - Paracelsus may have been not only right, but amazingly ahead of his time.
  4. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion 10+ Year Member

    Oct 30, 2006
    Virchow. Physicians are the attorneys for the poor.
  5. DMU DO

    DMU DO

    Mar 12, 2008
    Des Moines IA
    Albert Schweitzer was a person I'd like to talk to...not necessary for his contribution to science but because of the spirit of service he portrayed and his "Reverence for all Life" philosophy.
  6. DragonWell

    DragonWell Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Nov 20, 2004
    I've always found Halstead an interesting, if somewhat tragic, character. Probably a life-long cocaine/morphine addict, he had the revolutionary idea that controlling blood loss during surgery would make it safer :eek:. Also came up with the idea of using rubber gloves to minimize infection and started the first surgical residency program in the US at Hopkins.
  7. cyclohexanol

    cyclohexanol No, no. Doggie afuera. Physician 10+ Year Member

    Jun 28, 2005
    Snowed In
    William Garner Sutherland: noted that the temperoparietal suture is beveled, much like the gills of a fish, therefore it must indicate a respiratory motion. Given this astounding revelation, he went on to develop cranial osteopathy.

    Oh wait, I put this in the wrong thread. I thought this was the 'medicine's most loathed villains' thread. Sorry!
  8. Concubine

    Concubine PDE5 inhibited 5+ Year Member

    Nov 30, 2006
  9. Ferrismonk

    Ferrismonk ASA Member 10+ Year Member

    Dec 11, 2006
    He did make some good advances in public health, recognizing that society can cause disease just as biology can, but he also refused to accept the possibility that bacteria can cause disease. When Koch tried to get him to use an oil immersion lens on his microscope to see the heretofore invisible bacteria, he famously replied anything not seen with his present microscope was not worth seeing. :hungover:

    I haven't had any OMM instruction yet, but wow. I now see why so many DOs frown upon cranial even if they love OMM.:p

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