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March 27, 1987

The Humanities in Postgraduate Training

Author Affiliations

Harvard Medical School Boston

Harvard Medical School Boston

JAMA. 1987;257(12):1644. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390120106035

Needless to say, Williams wrote for everyone and anyone— certainly not with his medical colleagues uppermost in his mind. But he was making a point to a young physician who wanted to see more courses in literature and the humanities taught in medical schools. Williams was quick to remind the young physician what would happen in the medical schools: They'll offer some nice, pleasant thing, a teaspoon of sugar, for the first-year kids, their way of telling the students, see, it's not so scary here, and see, we can help you settle in, though in a year or two... well, forget it, because then there will be the really serious business in front of you, and no time for songs, no time for storytelling!

Such language—brusque, colloquial, and shrewd—was vintage Williams. He was trying to share an old-timer's sad wisdom with an earnest neophyte. He took pains that day to