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August 28, 1967


JAMA. 1967;201(9):692-693. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03130090056016

Many famous men of letters had at one time or another been exposed to the study of medicine. Some completed their medical work and may even have practiced medicine for awhile before giving it up; others had merely some exposure to medical education. We think of writers such as Somerset Maugham, Oliver Goldsmith, John Keats, or Gertrude Stein. But these we think of as literary figures, not as physicians. On the other hand, there is a much smaller number of writers who actively practiced medicine—for whom medicine remained a major activity, even though letters may have been a major interest. In this category, in the immediate past, the names of two poets come to mind, William Carlos Williams1 and Merrill Moore.

There are many outlets for physicians who like to write. Satire, short stories, novels, biographies, history—these are some of the media in which literate physicians express themselves. If