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April 9, 1982

The William Osier Lecture Series: Continuing Medical Education in Letters and Science

Author Affiliations

From Madison General Hospital, Madison, Wis.

JAMA. 1982;247(14):1983-1984. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320390045039

SIR William Osler (1849-1919), the renowned clinician, educator, and philosopher, firmly believed that the complete physician must have interests outside the profession of medicine. For Osler, incessant concentration of thought on one subject, no matter how interesting, "tethered a man's mind in a narrow field."1(p112) Osler well understood the vital role the humanities could play in relieving the tedium of a physician's preoccupation with medicine. For Osler, the humanities were "the hormones" with which to facilitate "daily intercourse with some of the great minds of the ages."1(pp80-82) It is clear from Osler's philosophy and personal example that he thoroughly appreciated the importance of a broad-based curriculum for a physician's lifelong education.

Unfortunately, in modern medical education the humanities may too often be sacrificed on the altar of technical expertise. The result is that too many physicians fall into a lifelong pattern of narrowly focused interests. Reporting the results