McMaster University

McMaster University

"Medicine is learned by the bedside and not in the classroom. Let not your conceptions 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. ~ Sir William Osler, Dundas-raised Physician and Icon of Modern Medicine (1849 - 1919)

William Osler
William Osler

Hamilton has enjoyed a long-standing tradition of excellence in medical education harkening back to the days of Osler at the turn of the century. After completing his postgraduate medical training and on his way to establishing an international reputation as a sagacious physician and empathetic teacher, Sir William Osler held a locum tenens in Dundas in 1872, and spent some time at the Hamilton City Hospital. It is thought that much of McMaster's innovative approach to teaching can be traced to forward-looking suggestions and practices stemming from Osler’s work from 1889 through 1905, while the Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University. (image William Osler by Thomas C. Corner (1865-1938), 1905. Source: The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives)

Hamilton circa 1974 was swept up in a revolution in medical education. The new McMaster University Medical School’s self-directed, problem-based learning in a tutorial setting, pioneered by Dr. John Evans and an all-star educational team including American anatomist Dr. Jim Anderson, thrombosis expert Dr. Fraser Mustard, internist and behavioural scientist Dr. William Spaulding, and internist/cardiologist Dr. William Walsh. Dr. Walsh recalls that at that time, there was a tremendous "esprit de corps" — an excitement that permeated all aspects of the new system from faculty to the wide variety of students from varying backgrounds. It was an environment of possibility, which perseveres to this day. The McMaster problem-based-learning concept has traveled as far as Harvard University, Maastricht University and Newcastle, and provides doctors with the skills to respond to the rapid and ever-accelerating changes in medicine today.

The clinical training of young medical students interested in cardiology in Hamilton, 1974 was significantly different from the quaternary-care health system of today. The challenge was taken on mostly by internists, in a community with a proud, long-standing tradition of excellent-quality private practice. Clinical cardiology and physiology lectures from visiting cardiologists such as British consultant Dr. C. J. Dickinson, provided the majority of formal teaching. Exercise stress testing had just begun at MUMC, with a cadre of British-trained cardiologists and respirologists including Dr. Norman Jones, Dr. E. Moran Campbell, Dr. Peter Powles, Dr. John Sutton and technolgist Michael Kangalee. Dr. Adrian Yaffe and Dr. Jack Sibley were the first to learn and perform cardiac catheterization. There were three interventional cardiologists with large clinical volumes: Mayo Clinic-trained Dr. John Robinson, Cleveland Clinic-trained Dr. Eugene Biagioni, and cardiologist-respirologist Dr. Brian Sealey. Dr Homer Beattie was a surgeon with interest in cardiac valvular pathology, and Dr. John Gunstensen, a newly recruited cardiac surgeon. Foreshadowing its future reputation as the Canadian mecca for clinical and population research, Dr John Robinson’s EMPIRE study, studying the benefits of fish oil vs. ASA in coronary artery disease was one of the first clinical trials to come out of Hamilton. McMaster was well on its way, and Canada was largely unaware. Then along came the four horsemen...

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