Fillers One hundred years ago

Perspective in medical education

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 21 April 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:958

Dr. Andrewes said: My first and most pleasant duty is to bid a hearty welcome to the newcomers to this school, and I trust that you will gain here not only adequate training in the profession you have chosen which this school is now more than ever fitted to give you, but also a number of firm friendships and pleasant memories which will remain for your whole lives. I have next to say something to you—not new, indeed, but I hope true—about the methods of medical education, and especially about the value of a rational perspective in your studies. The enthusiasm for work, which I have found even keener amongst women students than amongst men, entails the risk that you may spend time over things that matter little, leaving insufficient space for more vital matters. It should be the main function of your teachers to direct your energies into the most important channels. No one can in five, or even in fifty, years learn all that one could wish about disease and its prevention and treatment. You have to go on learning all your lives, and, a healthy sense of ignorance is a saving grace. But there are three things which you must learn in your five years of medical study. You have to learn how to learn. Then you have to learn as much as you can of those things which are of immediate and cardinal importance, and which will serve as the groundwork for future learning after you commence practice. Lastly, you have to learn how to set forth what you have learned in such a manner as to persuade a Board of Examiners that you are fit and proper persons to be let loose on the public as qualified medical practitioners. (BMJ 1901;ii:990)

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