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William Osler (1849 – 1919)


Canadian physician.
William Osler
A man must have faith in himself to be of any use in the world. There may be very little on which to base it no matter, but faith in one's powers, in one's mission is essential to success. Confidence once won, the rest follows naturally; and with strong faith in himself a man becomes a local center for its radiation. St. Francis, St. Theresa, Ignatius Loyola, Florence Nightingale, the originator of every cult or sect or profession has possessed this infective faith. And in the ordinary everyday work of the doctor confidence, assurance (in the proper sense of the word) is an asset without which it is very difficult to succeed.
Osler quotes
Surrounded by people who demand certainty, and not philosopher enough to agree with Locke that "Probability supplies the defect of our knowledge and guides us when that fails, and is always conversant about things of which we have no certainty," the practitioner too often gets into a habit of mind which resents the thought that opinion, not full knowledge, must be his stay and prop. There is no discredit, though there is, at times much discomfort, in this everlasting perhaps with which we have to preface so much connected with the practice of our art. It is, as I said, inherent in the subject.
Osler
When schemes are laid in advance, it is surprising how often the circumstances fit in with them.




Osler William quotes
I have had three personal ideals: One to do the day's work well and not to bother about tomorrow. You may say that is not a satisfactory ideal. It is; and there is not one which the student can carry with him into practice with greater effect. To it more than anything else I owe whatever success I have had to this power of settling down to the day's work and trying to do it well to the best of my ability, and letting the future take care of itself.
The second ideal has been to act the Golden Rule, as far as in me lay, toward my professional brethren and toward the patients committed to my care.
And the third has been to cultivate such a measure of equanimity as would enable me to bear success with humility, the affection of my friends without pride, and to be ready when the day of sorrow and grief came, to meet it with the courage befitting a man.
What the future has in store for me, I cannot tell you cannot tell. Nor do I care much, so long as I carry with me, as I shall, the memory of the past you have given me. Nothing can take that away.
Osler William
Every one of you will have to face the ordeal of every student in this generation who sooner or later tries to mix the waters of science with the oil of faith. You can have a good deal of both if you only keep them separate. The worry comes from the attempt at mixture.
William Osler quotes
Common sense in matters medical is rare, and is usually in inverse ratio to the degree of education.
William Osler
The desire to take medicine is perhaps the greatest feature which distinguishes man from animals.
Osler William quotes
Nationalism has been the great curse of humanity. In no other shape has the Demon of Ignorance assumed more hideous proportions; to no other obsession do we yield ourselves more readily. For whom do the hosannas ring higher than for the successful butcher of tens of thousands of poor fellows who have been made to pass through the fire to this Moloch of nationalism ? A vice of the blood, of the plasm rather, it runs riot in the race, and rages today as of yore in spite of the precepts of religion and the practice of democracy. Nor is there any hope of change; the pulpit is dumb, the press fans the flames, literature panders to it and the people love to have it so. Not that all aspects of nationalism are bad. Breathes there a man with soul so dead that it does not glow at the thought of what the men of his blood have done and suffered to make his country what it is ? There is room, plenty of room, for proper pride of land and birth. What I inveigh against is a cursed spirit of intolerance, conceived in distrust and bred in ignorance, that makes the mental attitude perennially antagonistic, even bitterly antagonistic to everything foreign, that subordinates everywhere the race to the nation, forgetting the higher claims of human brotherhood.
Osler
The trained nurse has become one of the great blessings of humanity, taking a place beside the physician and the priest, and not inferior to either in her mission.
Osler William
Nothing in life is more wonderful than faith the one great moving force which we can neither weigh in the balance nor test in the crucible. Intangible as the ether, ineluctable as gravitation, the radium of the moral and mental spheres, mysterious, indefinable, known only by its effects, faith pours out an unfailing stream of energy while abating nor jot nor tittle of its potency. Well indeed did St. Paul break out into the well-known glorious panegyric, but even this scarcely does justice to the Hertha of the psychical world, distributing force as from a great storage battery without money and without price to the children of men.
Three of its relations concern us here. The most active manifestations are in the countless affiliations which man in his evolution has worked out with the unseen, with the invisible powers, whether of light or of darkness, to which from time immemorial he has erected altars and shrines. To each one of the religions, past or present, faith has been the Jacob's ladder. Creeds pass, an inexhaustible supply of faith remains, with which man proceeds to rebuild temples, churches, chapels and shrines.
William Osler
There are three classes of human beings: men, women and women physicians.




William Osler quotes
To study the phenomenon of disease without books is to sail an uncharted sea, while to study books without patients is not to go to sea at all.
William Osler
There is no more difficult art to acquire than the art of observation, and for some men it is quite as difficult to record an observation in brief and plain language.
Osler quotes
No human being is constituted to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; and even the best of men must be content with fragments, with partial glimpses, never the full fruition.
Osler William
Variability is the law of life, and as no two faces are the same, so no two bodies are alike, and no two individuals react alike and behave alike under the abnormal conditions which we know as disease.
Osler William quotes
In a true and perfect form, imperturbability is indissolubly associated with wide experience and an intimate knowledge of the varied aspects of disease. With such advantages he is so equipped that no eventuality can disturb the mental equilibrium of the physician; the possibilities are always manifest, and the course of action clear. From its very nature this precious quality is liable to be misinterpreted, and the general accusation of hardness, so often brought against the profession, has here its foundation. Now a certain measure of insensibility is not only an advantage, but a positive necessity in the exercise of a calm judgment, and in carrying out delicate operations. Keen sensibility is doubtless a virtue of high order, when it does not interfere with steadiness of hand or coolness of nerve; but for the practitioner in his working-day world, a callousness which thinks only of the good to be effected, and goes ahead regardless of smaller considerations, is the preferable quality.
Cultivate, then, gentlemen, such a judicious measure of obtuseness as will enable you to meet the exigencies of practice with firmness and courage, without, at the same time, hardening "the human heart by which we live."
William Osler
One of the first duties of the physician is to educate the masses not to take medicine.
William Osler quotes
Humanity has but three great enemies: fever, famine, and war; of these by far the greatest, by far the most terrible, is fever.
William Osler
Literature is full of examples of remarkable cures through the influence of the imagination, which is only an active phase of faith.
Osler William
We are here to add what we can to, not to get what we can from, Life.


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