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February 11, 1974

A Surgeon's Odyssey

Author Affiliations

University of California School of Medicine San Francisco

JAMA. 1974;227(6):666-667. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230190058032

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


In this book the author, an eminent surgeon who became a legendary figure at Northwestern Medical School, tells his life's story, beginning as the son of a railroad engineer in Galesburg, Ill, and ending with his retirement.

Although sprinkled liberally with personal anecdotes, the book offers a clear view of the author's attitudes in medical curricula, clinical teachers, and fee-splitting. Davis favored preceptorial teaching for residents. Repeatedly he defends the unpaid clinical faculty, maintaining that remuneration from a medical school does not enhance the value of a teacher. He attributes the erosion of mutual regard between clinical and preclinical teachers to jealousy over financial incomes, academic ranks, and domination of curriculum. After becoming Chairman of Surgery he abolished lectures to medical students.

He first encountered competitive fee-splitting as a general surgeon and thereafter fearlessly opposed it. Ultimately the Chicago Medical Society brought charges against him for statements quoted by the