Doctors have appeared in fiction throughout history. From Dr Faustus, written in the sixteenth century, to more recent film adaptations in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the familiarity of these characters will be profitably read and watched by both experienced and future doctors who want to reflect on the human condition often so ably described by the established men and women of letters.
Think the life of a doctor is dull? Think again! In a previous post, I recommended ten books by medical men which all doctors should read. Today, it’s the turn of medical movies. By focusing on the extremes of human life – birth, death, suffering, illness, and health – such films provide insight into the human condition and the part that we as doctors play in this never-ending theatre.
The centenary of the Great War has led to a renewed interest in military matters, and throughout history, war has often been the setting for medical innovation with major advances in the treatment of burns, trauma, and sepsis emanating from medical experience in the battlefield. X-rays, which were discovered in 1895 by Roentgen, soon found a role in military conflict. The first use of X-rays in a military setting was during the Italo-Abyssinian war in 1896.
The Reith lectures were inaugurated in 1948 by the BBC to celebrate and commemorate Lord Reith’s major contribution to British broadcasting. Many distinguished names are to be found in the alumni of lecturers, whose origins are not confined to this sceptred isle in which the concept of these educational thought provoking radio talks were conceived.
Sir William Osler, the great physician and bibliophile, recommended that his students should have a non-medical bedside library that could be dipped in and out of profitably to create the well rounded physician. Some of the works mentioned by him, for example Religio Medici by Sir Thomas Browne is unlikely to be on most people’s reading lists today.
Tomorrow, 8 November, will mark the third anniversary of the now established International Day of Radiology, an event organised by the European Society of Radiology and Radiological Society of North America: a day in which health care workers worldwide mark their debt of gratitude to Wilhelm Roentgen’s great discovery of x- rays, and its subsequent applications in the field of medical practice, today known as radiology or medical imaging.
Egyptian mummies continue to fascinate us due to the remarkable insights they provide into ancient civilizations. Flinders Petrie, the first UK chair in Egyptology did not have the luxury of X-ray techniques in his era of archaeological analysis in the late nineteenth century. However, twentieth century Egyptologists have benefited from Roentgen’s legacy.