Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 66.djvu/526

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522
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Again, the physician under the stress of practical life must be positive and aggressive in his dealing with disease. He must supply empirically what is lacking rationally, and his experience is therefore of the greatest value as it is in all vocations which couple science with actual life. The investigator, on the other hand, must be to a certain degree negative, skeptical of current theories, and suspicious of mere experience. He must frequently destroy before he builds up. He approaches the individual case of disease through general laws established through experiment. The physician must begin with his patients and through them reach general formulse governing disease. He studies the patient, whereas the investigator studies the disease.

The investigator should be free to a certain degree to create his material and his problems. The physician must accept his cases as they come to him and he can only exercise the skill of selection. Each patient is indeed a problem, but it is worked out under the illumination of the accumulated knowledge of the world, and not dealt with according to strange and hitherto unknown formulje. The physician can not control his patient excepting within a narrow range. Experiment as such, except when of a trivial nature, is forbidden by law and conscience. Statistics is the only court of appeal he has in attempting to prove success, and this method we know is open to serious error. On account of his peculiar and unique life work, the physician must build his education as broadly as possible and carry as much information as is compatible with normal thinking. The research worker, on the other hand, digs and delves and he must leave unnecessary encumbrances behind.

The main task of the medical schools will always be to train physicians. It does not fall within the scope of this address to define what this training should be, and I shall not attempt it, excepting in so far as it bears upon laboratory instruction. I believe that the medical school should make the future physician absorb as much as possible of the best medical science of the day and give him a certain initial skill and dexterity in carrying out the fundamental operations of the medical art. The power of the student to think independently, to digest the facts he has absorbed into some current theory which enables him to absorb more, and thus continually upbuild and rebuild his science, should be uninterruptedly stimulated by lectures, conferences and reading. To aid this constructive work laboratories have come quite generally into use. They are not research institutes at bottom, but originally a means to fix and illuminate through the senses facts otherwise meaningless. For the average student the laboratory is a review as well as a fixative of data which he is to carry with him and upon which he is to build his professional experience.

Those who are inclined to claim for the laboratory more than