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What Is the Oslerian Tradition?

Charles S. Bryan, MD
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From the University of South Carolina School of Medicine and Richland Memorial Hospital, Columbia, South Carolina. Requests for Reprints: Charles S. Bryan, MD, Department of Medicine, University of South Carolina School of Medicine, 2 Richland Medical Park, Suite 502, Columbia, SC 29203.

Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 1994;120(8):682-687. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-120-8-199404150-00010
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Discussants of internal medicine often invoke but seldom define “the Oslerian tradition,” which has many meanings. No definition provides clear insight into the issues now relevant to American internal medicine, primarily because, as William Osler knew, the field itself shows definitional ambivalence. The tradition might be best understood as a virtuous approach to medicine and to life as taught and modeled by Osler. If we understand his philosophy and methods, we will be better prepared to use and pass on (tradere, “to deliver”) something of greater value: the ability to make wise choices that are in society's best interest.





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