April 3, 1972

Physician Travelers

JAMA. 1972;220(1):97-102. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03200010081015

P hysicians have long been fond of travel. According to Singer and Underwood, Egyptian doctors traveled widely and attended most of the monarchs of the ancient world. Hippocrates led a wandering life. Galen made long journeys to extend his knowledge. Medieval adventurous spirits journeyed from Christian Europe into Spain to obtain access to Arabic learning. Paracelsus was essentially a wanderer. Later physicians have also traveled, for study, scientific investigation, pleasure, or as medical advisers to military, diplomatic, or exploratory expeditions. Today, doctors attend medical conventions and seminar cruises, or join chartered flights sponsored by medical societies. When they return they usually want to tell their friends about what they have seen, often exhibiting slides of the more spectacular sights. Before the days of photography, many physician travelers wrote books about their trips.

Eighteen books written between 1677 and 1887 by physicians who traveled for many different reasons, have now been