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P&S Journal

P&S Journal: Winter 1996, Vol.16, No.1
Letters

Dear Editor:

The current format of "The Journal" is successful, providing pleasure and enlightenment, certainly to me, and I suspect to all those tied to P&S who receive it. Would you consider expanding its scope to include a caprice or two, in the form of poetry or essay, from alumni? Such a contribution should relate to medicine, or reflect P&S nurturing, but might be serious or whimsical, heavy or light. It might be fun to know our colleagues through this medium. Of course you may be disposed to the axiom, "If it ain't broke don't fix it."

There is a degree of self-interest in this query in that the undersigned would be tempted to submit were such an avenue open.

John C. Wood'49
Yardley, Pa.

Editor's Note: About the only axiom we adhere to is that P&S Journal should re-invent itself each issue to stay meaningful to its readers. Any value added, such as in the form of poetry or essays from alumni or other readers, would be welcomed enthusiastically. We can't promise to print everything we receive from contributors (especially considering the talented lot of P&S graduates, faculty, and students), but we can promise to enjoy reviewing the contributions. If you need a formal invitation, consider this it.

Dear Editor:

In the fall issue, Dean Herbert Pardes in his article, "Changing Times in Academic Medicine: A Message from the Dean" stated the following: "Our name and our research volume place us among the top academic centers."

In July 1995, U.S. News and World Report published a survey entitled "America's Best Hospitals." The rankings were based on reputation among board certified specialists, mortality rates, and other objective measures in 12 specialties listed below:

SpecialtyColumbia-Presbyterian Ranking
Cardiology 11
AIDS 16
Cancer not in top 40
Endocrinology 21
Gastroenterology not in top 40
Geriatrics 26
Gynecology 33
Neurology 5
Otolaryngology 38
Rheumatology not listed in top 40
Urology 20
Ophthalmologynot listed in top 17

Res ipsa loquitur.

W. Holmes Yealy'48
Muncy, Pa.

Editor's Note: Academic medical centers have love-hate relationships with magazine rankings. We love them when we're rated high and we hate them when we're not. It's important to remember that such a ranking is only one measurement of Columbia-Presbyterian's standing, and it is a mixture of objective and subjective judgments. (U.S. News and World Report also issues rankings on medical schools.) Other measurements offer different perspectives. P&S was the fourth largest recipient of NIH research funding in 1994 (the latest year tallied). That's a purely objective measurement that cannot be disputed. The National Research Council, an independent organization chartered by Congress, lists Columbia's biochemistry and molecular biology, neurosciences, and physiology disciplines among the top 10 programs in their respective fields. Neurosciences ranked sixth, physiology and cellular biophysics tied for ninth, and biochemistry and molecular biophysics tied for 10th place. These rankings were based in part on a survey of faculty peers across the nation. The study, titled "Research-Doctorate Programs in the United States," is conducted every four years. Another important measurement is recruitment. If our success in recruiting top-notch chairs, senior faculty, junior faculty, residents, and students is any indication, our reputation as "among the very top academic medical centers" is undoubtedly secure. In many ways, this is the most important indicator of all.

Dear Editor:

I am stimulated to write to you by the cover picture on your fall issue. It is not because of Elizabeth Rosen's clever insertion of "modern" medical students into the old photograph, but because of the nostalgia the old picture evoked in me. You identify it only as "circa 1920s P&S photograph." If others have not already done so, I think that I can identify it quite accurately. It was taken in the fall of 1927 or the winter of 1928.

I know this to be so because the three teachers are 1) Alan O. Whipple, professor of surgery (with white hair, his hand on the top of the operating table, on which we see the back of the patient's head), 2) Frank Meleney, just behind Dr. Whipple, at that time an assistant professor of surgery, recently back from the PUMC, 3) Arthur Purdy Stout, hands in pocket, probably still an instructor, who later took over Surgical Pathology.

These three men I knew for years after I came to the Presbyterian Hospital as an intern in 1930, but I can fix the date because the student in the front row in the stiff, white collar, just behind the right shoulder of the red jacketed "modern" student is Caldwell B. Esselstyn. "Essy" graduated from P&S in 1929 (as I did from Harvard) and we were running mates during our two-year internship which began for us on February 1, 1930, he on the first division, and I on the second.

In February of 1930 the Presbyterian (and P&S) had been in their new site for almost two years. I think the move was in March of 1928. The picture had to have been taken before that because the amphitheatre is definitely not the McCosh amphitheatre, which would have been used for a surgical patient demonstration uptown. So the class must have been a third-year class-the first year patients were demonstrated to students, and since Essy graduated in 1929, his third year was 1927-28, and the picture was taken before the move that spring.

How many P&S graduates of the Class of '29 are still around? Perhaps you could identify others in the class with their help. I don't recognize any others, although I think that Alice Baker and Dorothy Marvin (also surgical interns, just ahead of Essy and me) were in that class. I wonder if there is any record of why the picture was taken, or whether it has been published before.

George Humphreys
Valentine Mott Professor Emeritus of Surgery
West Dover, Vt.

Editor's Note: Information about the photo was limited to what was on the back of the sepia photo ("early teaching amphitheatre, Presbyterian Hospital, 1920s?"), but you have added considerably to its identification. The print, which was found in public relations files, was damaged, but Archives could find no copy or negative. Can any one else add to the historical description?

Send Letters To:
Editor, P&S Journal
Office of the Dean
College of Physicians and Surgeons
630 W. 168th St.
New York, NY 10032
e-mail: edb3@columbia.edu


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