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Book and Media Reviews
January 25, 2006


Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA.

JAMA. 2006;295(4):445-446. doi:10.1001/jama.295.4.445

Dr Eugene Stead was a giant in internal medicine during his long and productive career. This biography, by two of his former colleagues on the Duke University faculty, is comprehensive, well-written, and definitive. It traces Dr Stead from his shy, introverted boyhood in a poor Georgia family through the dynamic, powerful expression of his professional genius.

Stead applied to medical school to show that he could handle the difficult curriculum. There he excelled and earned his way to appointments at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Mass, where he had both medical and surgical internships, followed by chief medical residency at Cincinnati General Hospital and research fellowships at the Thorndike Laboratory of Boston City Hospital. As a house officer, Stead's initial efforts at case presentations were floundering and required “rescue” by a kind attending physician. While chief resident in Cincinnati, he gained his first administrative experience, encouraged by a supportive department chief. Finding a lackadaisical house staff, he imposed discipline and created eagerness to learn. This practical southerner also ended racial segregation in this overcrowded northern city hospital in the early 1940s. When a patient who required admission could not be admitted to the filled ward matching his or her race, Stead admitted the patient to another ward. Soon all wards were continually 10% to 15% integrated.