The first meeting of the Gold Humanism Honor Society History of Medicine Club was held on Tuesday, August 18th at 7 pm in the Robert L. Brown History of Medicine Collection in the Health Sciences Library. Following a meal of Thai food (generously provided by President Reed Lasala), the students took a brief tour of the collection and got to see several of the “high-profile” books up close and personal. Dr. Ronald Batt, the Club’s advisor, then discussed the life and career of Dr. William Halsted, one of the founders of Johns Hopkins. The students will decide what direction future meetings will take. The History of Medicine is pleased to to support this very important and exciting venture and and we asked Reed to give us a little background about the Club and himself.
What is the Gold Humanism Honor Society?
GHHS is a national organization established to promote a culture of respect, dignity, and compassion in healthcare. We hold events that nurture a spirit of humanism among medical professionals.
What prompted you to form the History of Medicine Club?
I have always had an interest in the history of medicine. Since I was a first year I have wanted to have lectures on the subject, and I looked for professors who would be able to teach medical students about the history of our profession. One of my professors told me to contact Dr. Batt, and his interest in the subject spurred our club forward. I think that an understanding of the history of medicine can provide a solid foundation in the principles behind the practice of medicine, and more importantly it can provide us with an understanding of how medicine has progressed so that we can nurture its progression in the future. Additionally, the University at Buffalo was originally founded as a medical school, and we have a rich history of medical practice and education. The History of Medicine Collection here at UB is an especially valuable resource for learning about the history of our profession. I wanted to draw on that history by forming the History of Medicine Club.
What are your goals for the Club?
I hope to educate the next generation of medical students about the achievements and pitfalls of our forebears, so that we can learn to better care for our patients in the future. I also hope to start interesting conversations about the history of medicine so that we can all better understand principles and meaning behind our work as physicians.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and why you decided to become a doctor?
I grew up in Manhattan, and my father is a physician, an anesthesiologist. I always wanted to do something that would enable me to care for others directly and to help them with the problems that they encounter in their lives. I grew up around medicine, and I found in it a way that I could fulfill my desire to care for others. I was also always interested in the sciences and the intricate physiology of the body.
What future topics do you plan to explore?
I hope to continue learning about the lives and work of the physicians that made western medicine what it is today. First we will continue with our theme of the Big Four physicians. The last meeting we talked about Halstead, and we’ll go on from there to Osler, Welch, and Kelly. I also hope to have a meeting on Hippocrates and/or Galen so we can talk about the origins of western medicine. We will also talk about other pivotal physicians, and we will discuss major medical advancements as separate topics, such as the discovery of insulin and advancements in our understanding of physiology. We will see what direction the club goes in, and I hope to also use the resources of the History of Medicine Collection to enhance our learning.
Is Dr. Batt your permanent advisor?
Yes, Dr. Batt is an integral part of the History of Medicine Club. His expertise in the history of medicine is indispensable to our discussions, and I hope that he will continue to teach us about all of the interesting topics in the history of medicine. It was always my hope to start a History of Medicine Club, but Dr. Batt and I started this club together, and I hope that we will continue to work together as the club progresses. His enthusiasm and interest in the history of medicine have helped make this club what it is.