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Early Career and the Development of the Heart-Lung Machine, 1935-1951
Letter from Clarence Dennis to Frank S. Burch (February 3, 1934)
Two years seems entirely too short a preparation for surgery, if that is what you are planning to go into.
If you expect to go into surgery when you leave school or rather on finishing your internship as your letter indicated it
would seem best to obtain very much more preparation.
Even in one of the special fields it requires at least 3 or 4 years to acquire sufficient background and experience and it
would seem to be best to work thru to a residency for in the long run you would be far ahead of the average Surgeon -- when
you launch out of yourself. Wallace Ritchie, after his internship, started on a 3 or 4 year fellowship which is good training,
with a subsidy of $600 to $800 during the fellowship.
The matter of choice of Hospitals is less important than the men you will work under and I am afraid my judgment in this will
not be very helpful for I do not know any of the men personally.
Conditions have changed so much in the past few years -- Every cross road has a "surgeon" (?) Who does all the emergency
appendices, hernias, gall bladders, goiters, etc and anything the patient will permit, even trying many things in Urology,
orthopedic and of course eye ear nose and throat -- with a minimum of training. This all sounds discouraging but is written
to urge you to plan on doing big things
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with full measure of experience and judgment when you really do begin surgery --
By all means go the limit in training and institutional training is far better than an apprenticeship -- for there are few
men in private surgical practice who can give you adequate opportunity.
Personally I feel it is difficult to foresee what future medicine is going to be like. It seems to me the future of teaching
medicine, along with research is somewhat promising and may hold greater opportunity for "individuality."
Any of the Hospitals you mentioned are worthwhile altho[sic] none is better than Hopkins in my opinion. The teaching Hospital
is the only choice necessary -- next to the ability -- and reputation of the Chief of Service --
Mrs. B and I are here for a few days on our way South -- St. Petersburg and Miami and we expect to go to Washington and Baltimore
on our way home. Your folks were all well when we left and the weather was nice -- but I just had to have a rest of about
I hope you are enjoying your work and keep well. Mrs. B joins me in kind regards