The frenzied but exciting situation in which medicine finds
itself today reminds one of Goethe's
familiar ballad, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice."1 When the magician's
back was turned the apprentice
commanded the battered broomstick
lying in the corner to do his bidding
without realizing what might be in
store for him.
Don a pair of legs now
Bear the pail at once.
Toil until with water clear, ye
Fill the bath to overflowing.1
The broom flew into action and soon
there was pandemonium.
See, 'tis off—'tis at the river
In the stream the bucket flashes.
Again, again and quicker!
The floor is in a swim
And every stoop and bickle
Is running o'er the brim.1
The anxious apprentice could not
remember how to command the
broom to resume its place, so he
called frantically for his master.
Such is our position today! Our combined research, teaching, and service
activities are "running o'er
Harvey AM. The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Arch Intern Med. 1968;122(5):453–456. doi:10.1001/archinte.1968.00040010453016
Customize your JAMA Network experience by selecting one or more topics from the list below.