Department of Medicine

Theory and Practice of Medicine

The philosophy of Stanford’s Department of Medicine is that the practice of medicine is a privilege and a calling, and that it combines both art and science.  There is perhaps no better description of the scope of internal medicine than a seminal paragraph written by Tinsley Harrison in the preface to the first edition of Harrison’s Textbook of Internal Medicine published in 1950. This paragraph disappeared for a few editions, but it has now reappeared in the preface to newer editions and in reproducing it below, we have taken the liberty of changing the masculine pronoun to feminine.

“No greater opportunity, responsibility or obligation can fall to the lot of a human being than to become a physician. In the care of the suffering, she needs technical skill, scientific knowledge, and human understanding. She who uses this with courage, with humility and with wisdom, will provide a unique service for her fellow beings, and will build an enduring edifice of character within herself. The physician should ask of her destiny no more than this; she should be content with no less.”

March 19, 2008, Medical Center Reports, Abraham Verghese, MD, launches a program in the theory and practice of medicine.

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