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Approximately 250,000 young people are graduated from our secondary schools every year, many of whom have ambitions to take up professional careers.
With the increased cost of preparation for such careers, they are called upon to risk much upon a single decision. They are familiar with the status of the physician, the work of the teacher and the rewards of the clergyman. The pay of the teacher and the remuneration of the minister are matters of common knowledge. The expense of preparation for these lines of service is not so great because of the subsidized training facilities and the availability of scholarships. It is not so easy to answer the inquiries of those who are considering the choice of medicine as a profession.
To find a safe method of handling these inquirers, the writer who had for a number of years been the vocational adviser to the students of one of our large secondary schools undertook to enlist a number of former students who had established themselves in this profession to act as volunteer consultants. It was soon found that physicians, like men engaged in other callings, in comparing their achievements with the dreams of their youthful days, believed that every man's calling was to be preferred to their own and their pessimism seemed to chill unduly the ardor of the youthful aspirants. A collection of the professional records of young men of known abilities was then made and an effort was made to discover some sound principles of vocational guidance from these records.
The greater number of boys who grew up in a large city began their practice in the cities of their own section. It seemed desirable for purposes of comparison to have an equal number of records of those who had made places for themselves in smaller towns and cities and in other sections of the country.
I turned to my brother, who, after fifteen years of successful general practice and active identification with a progressive state medical association, of which for a time he had been president, at the time was sojourning in European medical centers for the purpose of study along some special lines in which he was interested. I wanted to know how the early life histories of physicians could most profitably be studied for the purposes which I had in mind. He replied that the way to study physicians is to isolate them and to study them the way that they themselves studied germs and microbes, that he had learned more about the hopes and aspirations and the shortcomings of American physicians in Europe than he did by associating with them at home, that these men who represented every section of our country talked more freely about themselves and their work in the dining rooms of European caravansaries than they did with the possible competitors whom they met in their medical societies at home.
He undertook to collect some material for me and soon became convinced that it was highly desirable that there should be accessible to the young student such a fair statement of the requirements for success as would deter the thoughtless and the poorly endowed from undertaking the preparation, and at the same time so alluring as to stimulate promising candidates to exert themselves to make the fullest preparation before enter
ing upon practice. The outcome of the matter was that in spite of the exactions of a very busy practice to which he returned he undertook the preparation of this book.
After the manuscript had been prepared copies were submitted to inquiring young men and they were invited to personal consultations after reading it so that it might be determined what additions were needed to cover all possible questions which might arise in their minds.
Finally copies of the revised manuscript were submitted to a number of physicians to find out if, in their opinion, the conditions as they existed were properly reflected. In submitting the manuscript to them assurances were given that any criticisms which they had to make on the subject were not to be given out over their own names, as it was believed that in this way a freer expression of opinion could be secured.
Some of these critics seemed to think that special references should be made to courses of instruction which they themselves had found to be particularly helpful; others, that references to medical sects should have been omitted; others desired that mention should be made of the fact that appointments to special hospitals were particularly desirable and that young graduates should be cautioned against accepting appointments to others. Other helpful criticisms were carefully considered and as far as possible were incorporated in the text in making the final revisions.
Special acknowledgments are due to Mr. Robert I. Raiman, assistant principal of the Brooklyn Boys' High School, who read all of the final proofs.
E. W. WEAVER.