Osler’s Aphorisms

Quotations by Osler, pertinent to students of medicine both old and new.

  • “Medicine is learned by the bedside and not in the classroom. Let not your conception of disease come from words heard in the lecture room or read from the book.See, and then reason and compare and control. But see first.”
  • “Live neither in the past nor in the future, but let each day’s work absorb your entire energies and satisfy your widest ambition.”
  • “The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.”
  • “The value of experience is not in seeing much, but in seeing wisely.”
  • “The practice of medicine is an art, not a trade; a calling, not a business; a calling in which your heart will be exercised equally with your head. Often the best part of your work will have nothing to do with potions and powders, but with the exercise of an influence of the strong upon the weak, of the righteous upon the wicked, of the wise upon the foolish.”
  • “We are here to add what we can to life, not to get what we can from life.”
  • “To study the phenomenon of disease without books is to sail an uncharted sea, while to study books without patients is not to go to sea at all”
  • “I have three personal ideals. One, to do the day’s work well and not to bother about tomorrow…The second ideal has been to act the Golden Rule, as far as in me lay, toward my professional brethren and toward the patients committed to my care. And the third has been to cultivate such a measure of equanimity as would enable me to bear success with humility, the affection of my friends without pride, and to be ready when the day of sorrow and grief came to meet it with the courage befitting a man.”
    -Farewell Dinner (May 2, 1905)