Page:Hospitals, medical science and public health.djvu/25

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21
AND PUBLIC HEALTH

Clinical Professors.

In passing now from hospital and public medicine to the school, I would congratulate this University on the recent appointment of responsible professors of medicine. The rich services and the accomplished staffs of the London hospitals fall far short of their potential capacity because in this respect everybody's business is nobody's business. By general report, by the uneven quality of the clinical training of Cambridge students in London, and by personal comparison of the services in great continental hospitals, or, indeed, of the Edinburgh Infirmary as it was in the days of Begbie and Stewart when I knew it best, and as no doubt it is still to-day, I note in foundations so magnificent as the half dozen chief London hospitals that their defect of responsible clinical professors results in grave shortcomings. The apprenticeship system died out and no other methodical system took its place. Admirable are the gifts, devoted are the sacrifices of individual physicians and surgeons; and by such virtues this member of the staff or that gathers for a time a fairly regular class about him; yet he is but an unpaid or ill-paid volunteer, whose personal and private interests must be his chief consideration. None of the senior staff is invested with specific duties and responsibilities. Thus, as a whole, the teaching is without system, without concentration, without definite standards. At the best it is a procession of brilliant episodes; in the mean it is casual drills under no commanding officer. Where in these great hospitals do we find, as in France and Germany, a Clinical Professor, of experience no less ripe, by repute no less eminent than his English brethren, devoting the best of his golden hours to the hospital; making and controlling his assistants, guiding his classes in research, and working out his own problems leisurely before their eyes? In our visits to great English hospitals do we not more frequently see the great physician or surgeon flitting rapidly from bed to bed, hemmed in by a crowd of foreign admirers, dropping indeed as he goes pearls of wisdom, but educating nobody. His seed thoughts we pick up thankfully, but still we want also the curious, the leisurely, responsible professional teacher; such professors as you fortunately now possess in Dr. Graham Steell and Dr. George B. Murray.