William Osler is a renowned name in the field of medicine. He is regarded as the father of modern medicine and medical services. Sir William Osler is also popular for his image as a practical joker. Osler was one of the founding professors at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Osler founded the medical residency option which he started off in Johns Hopkins Hospital which later spread around the world. Osler had varied interests which made him a pathologist, physician, educator, bibliophile, historian and an author. William Osler initiated training programs from physicians. He was the man who was responsible for bringing medical students out of lecture halls into practical bedside clinical training sessions. Osler played an instrumental role in bringing up the Postgraduate Medical Association where he was the first President. Osler also held the prestigious Regius Chair of Medicine at Oxford till the end of his life. Being the Physician-in-Chief of the new Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland USA he co-founded the renowned Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The greatest contribution of William Osler lies in bringing new-age changes in student learning and patient-doctor interaction in medical residency system set up by him.
Wiliam Osler Childhood and Early Life
Wiliam Osler was born on 12 July, 1849 in Bond Head in Canada West. Osler’s father was a naval officer (former Lieutenant in the Royal Navy) and his uncle was a naval medical officer.
After 1857, William was brought up in Dundas, Ontario. Osler went to original Trinity College School in Weston Ontario. Young Osler chased his dream of following his father’s footsteps of becoming a member of the Anglican ministry and for this reason he attended Trinity College in Toronto in the autumn of 1867.
With time William found huge interest in the field of medicine. He had to discard his original dream of becoming a minister. Interest in medicine made William get enrolled in the Toronto School of Medicine.
William soon left Toronto School of Medicine to pursue a course, MDCM program at McGill University Faculty of Medicine in Montreal. In 1872, he got his medical degree which was known as MDCM.
William went to Europe for getting hands on post graduate training in Europe. In 1874 Osler returned to McGill University Faculty of Medicine becoming a professor. Soon he created the first journal club. In 1884 William was asked to become the Chair of Clinical Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
In 1885 he founded the Association of American Physicians which was a medical society involved in carrying out advancements in the world of scientific and practical medicine. William left Philadelphia in 1889 after being given a grand farewell honor by physicians which was named as ‘Aequanimitas’.
William Osler became the first Physician-in-Chief of the new Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland USA in 1889. Soon after this in 1893 he co-founded the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine where he became the first professor of medicine.
William Osler strived hard to become a well known clinician, humanitarian and teacher. His field of study was wide and varied.
John Hopkins Hospital had 220 beds, 788 patients and 15,000 days of treatment in its first year after being founded. When Osler left Hopkins hospital after staying for 16 years, the hospital boasted of a massive 4,200 patients being seen for a total of 110,000 days of treatment.
In 1905 William Osler was made the Regius Chair of Medicine at Oxford which he held till his death. He was also a Fellow of Christ Church, Oxford. In 1911 he began the very important Postgraduate Medical Association and became its first President. In the same year Osler was honored with a baronet in the Coronation Honours List for his outstanding and several contributions in the field of medicine.
Osler is known for his revolutionary changes in medical history. The great physicist in Osler brought about the modern day medical residency. By establishing the medical residency Osler insisted on the medical students – patient’s interaction. Osler’s main idea was to initiate a rapport between the treated and the treating doctors. He wanted students to learn, see and talk to patients in order to make brilliant findings in the field of medicine and treatment. Osler’s ideas later spread widely into the world. Osler had developed a successful sleep-in residency at John Hopkins where he had staff physicians living inside the Administration Building of the Hospital.
Other medical contribution of Osler includes clinical clerkship where third- and fourth-year students work with patients in various designated wards.
Osler is also known for being a prolific writer. He had many books which he willed away for being included in the Faculty of Medicine of McGill University. His treasure medical library is now a renowned McGill University's Osler Library of the History of Medicine which opened its operations in 1929.
Osler was also a notable speaker. He was a popular gerontology expert. Osler gave out a brilliant speech, "The Fixed Period" on 22 February 1905 churning controversy for certain words used surrounding old age. This famous speech by Osler was given before he became the Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford. It became famous and talked about in press.
His work, 'The Principles and Practice of Medicine' became very famous and a hotcake for medical students. It was regarded as a key text not just for students but as a referral book for clinicians. The book got published in various languages and came out in several editions till 2001.
William Osler was known for his humorous side. He loved leading a light hearted life full of jokes. He was the writer of many humorous pieces under the fictitious name of Egerton Yorrick Davis. He once played a great prank on the editors of the Philadelphia Medical News who published his report on the imaginary phenomenon of penis captivus, on December 13, 1884. This was a counter-letter to a report published by the newspaper three weeks back whose report was on the phenomenon of vaginismus.
Osler died at the age of 70 on 29 December, 1919. He suffered during the Spanish influenza epidemic. He was survived by his wife Grace who died 9 years after his death.
Osler lent his name to several diseases and symptoms. Several buildings bear Osler’s name. Some of the notable diseases’ names bearing the great physician’s name are - Osler's sign which is a blood pressure reading, Osler-Vaquez disease, Osler's filarial which a parasitic nematode, Osler’s triad which is association of pneumonia, endocarditis, and meningitis and several others.