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October 1963

The Evolving Art of Medicine

Author Affiliations


Professor Emeritus of Clinical Medicine, Consultant in Medicine, Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center.

Arch Intern Med. 1963;112(4):455-461. doi:10.1001/archinte.1963.03860040051002

My theme today is the steadily changing significance of the term art as applied to medicine and the imperatives that this long evolution has finally exerted on the role of internal medicine in medical education and in the practice of medicine.

One aspect of the art of medicine has remained steadfast from earliest time. This is the facet of the healing art derived from what Osler has called "the primal sympathy of man with man," his instinctive "desire to help those in sorrow, need and sickness," and it runs as a golden thread through the entire history of medicine from its most primitive expression to the elaborate scientific discipline of today. This golden thread may, from time to time, have been obscured by man's baser reactions, but it always reappears intact and untarnished. It influences even the quack and the charlatan to a modicum of altruism, it restrains somewhat the

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