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The William Osler Papers

Letter from Howard A. Kelly to William Osler pdf (2,176,168 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Howard A. Kelly to William Osler
In this letter, Kelly talks about the seemingly sudden implementation of the full-time clinical faculty scheme at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and his feelings about it. He also talks about his increasing work with radium as therapy.
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3 (2,176,168 Bytes)
1913-10-21 (October 21, 1913)
Kelly, Howard A.
Osler, William
Original Repository: Osler Library of the History of Medicine, McGill University. Bibliotheca Osleriana
BO #7651
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Exhibit Category:
Sir William: Regius Professor at Oxford, 1905-1919
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
October 21, 1913.
Dear Sir William:
We have been having a great time here lately in our medical faculty meetings. Suddenly, and as far as I was concerned, without any knowledge or warning, unusual meetings were called and it transpired that the purpose of Dr. Welch and Dr. Williams was to put through the "whole time service" idea and get money from Rockefeller sufficient to pay the leading medical man and surgical man and pediatrist ten thousand dollars a year. Their idea was also to limit the Medical School to sixty in each class. Whether the faculty as a body ever agreed to these ideas, I don't know, I don't recall any such action; but Dr. Welch simply presented a paper, which I think he and Dr. Williams prepared, taking it for granted that such a course was to be carried out, and by generously inviting discussion, and focusing the expression of opinion up on the pure verbal construction, nothing was said about the fundamental principles, for instance cutting out an adjective or an adverb here and there. Then another hurried meeting was called for hours discussion, 3-4 PM, and following that at 4 PM the Univ. the trustees were found in an adjoining room all ready to confirm our action.
It will undoubtedly throw Barker out entirely. He has said that he would give up in the Hospital and go to private practice should such a ruling prevail. I feel badly about this as I really feel as if we had, as it were, gotten him here under false pretenses in making radical changes so soon after his arrival. It will probably also throw Thayer out. The hint is that Mrs. Thayer wants a good deal of money to spend and will not let him take the position which will be offered him if Barker resigns. Halsted, of course, will just go on as usual capture two or three times the salary has been having & have to do nothing more than before!
I think, myself, that the ideas a good one, but I don't see that they're going to carry it out in a very practical way so as to realize any great benefit from it. A salary of ten thousand will not convert a teacher into an investigator. The next thing Williams will be coming after my chair, as he expressed his intention of resigning from the Obstetrics chair, which means, of course, that he wants to be invited back and have charge of Obstetrics and Gynecology too with increased prestige. Finney is opposed to the change, and told me yesterday that if he were offered the place of Surgery he could not accept it but would have to resign. But he is not an "investigator" either, but he does not realize it.
There is also a ruling which is going to hit Dr. Young very hard; that is to say, that all bills rendered the patients in the Hospital will go through the main office. In this way they will keep an exact account of any fees paid young in his large private ward, which amounts, of course, to nothing but a private hospital for him. Personally, I do not care much what they do, and on the whole I approve of the plan, as I have said.
I am very glad that my work is been so largely outside of the hospital in my own private institution as they cannot seriously touch me; and, indeed, if it were not for Cullen, who ought to step into my shoes, I would have resigned from J. H. H. a couple of years ago. I am now so much interested in radium in all its applications in medicine & surgery that the mere matter of surgical technique and of the pathological investigation of gynecological structures seems very small in comparison.
I have over gram of radium, at least I will have by December, and I'm planning to add from five to ten grams more to my collection. This has enabled me already to do some very remarkable work. I will tell you about it more at length later.
I forgot to say that Howland, too, in Pediatrics, will be affected by the change. Meyer does not like it and I think the majority of the men (except lab profs) do not like it, but there is no bitterness of feeling whatever. It is curious to me to see how Welch has carried it through. He is like a big father thanking all this children.
I am just going up to York, Pa., in behalf of Miss Small, to examine into hospital conditions there, to hear testimony and to decide whether or not things are going right. As a matter of fact, I think some pretty dreadful things been done in the Hospital. Our good friend, Meisenhelder, is on the right side and is trying to purify the Hospital.
Please give my affectionate regards to Lady Osler.
Always faithfully yours,
Howard A. Kelly
Who will say men can't gossip!
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