DOCTOR DOCK: Teaching and Learning Medicine At The Turn of the Century by Horace W. Davenport

DOCTOR DOCK: Teaching and Learning Medicine At The Turn of the Century

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Medical students will enjoy this amusing, intelligently edited transcript of the day-to-day teachings of a turn-of-the-century medical professor. Other readers will probably feel as if they have stumbled into the wrong classroom. George Dock, who taught medicine at the University of Michigan from 1899 to 1908, had his secretary prepare a literal transcript of everything that was said by himself, his students and his patients at his twice-weekly clinics. The resulting 16 volumes--here condensed to 318 pages--are a gold mine of witty anecdote, sage counsel and practical methodology on everything from intestinal parasites to gastric ulcers. Unfortunately, unless the reader has a specific interest in these subjects, Dock's--and Davenport's--serious treatment of them is overwhelming. Others will enjoy this dedicated, scholarly look at (to put it in Davenport's words) ""how medicine was practiced and taught by a good man in a good medical school at the beginning of the twentieth century."" The book is really a memorial to a doctor's method and personality, and consists of carefully arranged quotations, with only occasional editorial amplifications of explanations. Here, for example, is Dock's metaphorical way of correcting a student's description of a patient's breathing: ""It is not as if the air got all in and out again and the lung wall collapsed as a door will shut when there is a draft outward through the house; there are cilia in the winding passages and as they move slightly they give a crackling or snapping sound."" Each of the seventeen chapters covers a different subject, so that by the end the reader has gone through a relatively complete medical course, albeit a dated one. A fine medical history, but of limited potential readership.

Pub Date: March 24th, 1987
Publisher: Rutgers Univ. Press