N. S. Davis
1883 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)  
PRESIDENT OF THE ASSOCIATION. Gentlemen:\p=m-\Ihave promised to occupy your attention on this occasion, in considering the present status, and future tendencies of the medical profession in the United States. There is probably no more difficult problem than that involved in the question, as to the real status and tendencies of the times in which we live; and especially in reference to communities or classes of communities of which we constitute a part. An intelligent mind furnished with all the
more » ... facts of the past history of a people, or of a prof essi on , does not find it difficult to trace the various influences and measures which have contributed to their development and progress up to a given period in the past. But our minds are so liable to be i nf l uenced by such part of the events transpiring in the present as are most nearly related to our own interests, that we find great difficulty in comprehending with equal clearness all the influences at work around us, and consequently cannot judge correctly of their future tendencies. So true is this that if we study the past history of our race, we shall find but few, even of those most eminent as statesmen, clearly comprehending either the full bearing of the measures they advocated or the tendency of the time in which they lived. And a large part of the legislation which is done, through all forms of government, is based upon only a partial comprehension of the existing evils to be remedied, or of the benefits to be obtained, and if carried into effect with still less comprehension of the effects of those laws upon the future interests of society. And what is true in regard to legislative bodies and states¬ men, is equally true in regard to any particular pro¬ fession or subordinate class of people. For instance, at the present time, in relation to our own profession, it is apparent upon almost every page of our medical lit¬ erature, and from the discussions in every medical so¬ ciety, that many things exist which are far from being satisfactory either as it regards its legal standing and educational progress, or the results of strictly profes¬ sional investigation. And yet, in the midst of all the complaints, how few are the instances in which even an attempt is made to point out clearly any remedies for the evils complained of that would not in their practical operation either develop other evils of equal magnitude, or utterly fail to accomplish the purposes for which they were designed. Very much has been said during the last quarter of a century in regard to the imperfections and inadequacy of our system of medical education ; and yet how few have even attempted to solve the question as to why the present inadequacy exists, or to point out clearly the way for its improvement. For the purpose of study¬ ing the important subject before us I shall on this occasion ask your attention first to the question, what constitutes the status of a profession. The word status is used simply to imply the present state of be¬ ing, or the present condition as a whole. But, to comprehend the actual conditions and relations of any large class in society as a whole, it is necessary to analyze the interests of that body of men, and look at each factor in its separate relations, and then when they are united we will see more clearly and distinctly the actual conditions and relations of the whole. For our purposes it is sufficient to consider the status of the profession, as comprehending its social relations, its ethical spirit or morale, its co¬ operative or society organizations, its educational in¬ stitutions, its legal relations and its scientific activity or spirit of investigation. In regard to the first of these I know of no reasonable ground of complaint. In this country the social standing of the members of our profession is everywhere precisely what the edu¬ cation and qualities of the individual member make them. There are yet no such established ranks, grades, or casts of society in this country as to dis¬ tinctly assign the members of any profession or call¬ ing to a special social standing. And, everywhere, both in the city and country, the enlightened and gentlemanly physician is not only a welcome visitor at the fireside, and around the bed of sickness in all grades of human society from the highest officer of the land to the lowest,-from the most wealthy to the beggar,-but he is also freely received and awarded as high a seat of honor in all social assemblies, whether merely social, literary, scientific or otherwise, as the members of any other class in the community. In the rural districts, outside of large cities, the intelligent, educated practitioner of medicine is in most instances emphatically a leader of society, and is often looked up to, not only as a leader in social affairs, but as an adviser in reference
doi:10.1001/jama.1883.02390020001001 fatcat:waet7evkxzbexc3j4mlv2hp2um