Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Michael Bliss' William Osler

Michael Bliss (1999) William Osler: A Life in Medicine, Oxford: Oxford University Press

This is an biography of William Osler (1849-1919), considered by some to be the father of modern medical education. Michale Bliss' approach is show him as more human, after generations of writing of doctors who had idolized him. Bliss wants to show the humanity of the man Osler

Much more than a physician, Osler was a literate, inspiring, humanist in science. His essays and addresses about the medical life, past, present and future, were widely read and appreciated for their blending of scientific and literary knowledge with high idealism and sensible advice about getting on with the daily grind. In both his writings and his personal life, and through a prism of tragedy in the Great War, Osler seemed to embody the art of living.

I especially like Bliss' comment on Osler's philosophy. It is not so much as attaining medical or literary competences, of achievement of national accolades, or being fanatically idealistic. It boils down to "living well." I believe that is a valuable lesson for us- medical practitioners, students and educators alike. We must seek to live well in the everlasting present.

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