Osteopathy furnishes an up-to-date illustration. Discredited by the medical profession, by medical journals and medical schools, it has in fifteen years built up a practice of eight thousand men, having from one to three years' training, including over one hundred physicians with full medical training plus a course in osteopathy. There were means of learning fifteen years ago what was truth and what was quackery about the practice of osteopathy. By refusing to look for its truth and by concentrating attention upon its quackery the medical profession has lost fifteen years. Whereas the truth of osteopathy should have been adopted by the medical colleges and a knowledge of its possibilities and limitations required of every practicing physician, a position has been reached where alleged quackery seems in several important points to be discrediting the sincerity, the intelligence, and the efficiency of orthodox medicine. No appeal to the natural can be stronger, no justification of schools of preventive medicine more complete, than the following paragraph from an osteopathic physician who is among the small number who, having both the medical and osteopathic degrees, see both the possibilities and limitations of manual surgery and demand the inclusion of this new science in the medical curriculum.
The physical method of treating disease presents a tremendous and significant departure from the empiricism of medicine and the experimentation of dietetics, the restricted fields of electricity, suggestion, water cures, and massage. The patient as an individual is not treated; the disease as a disease is not treated; the symptoms are not treated; but the entire physical organism, with its many parts and diverse functions, is exhaustively examined until each and every abnormal condition, whether of structure or of function, causing disease and maintaining symptoms, is found and administered to with the skill of a definite art, based upon the data of an exact science.
Likewise the truths underlying Christian Science have been disdained by medical schools and medical experts, just as its spiritual truth has been disdained by religious leaders, until it has grown to such strength that laymen are almost forced to question the sincerity and the efficacy of the conventional in religion as well as medicine. In May, 1907, the Emmanuel Church in Boston organized a clinic for the purpose of utilizing for neurasthenics particularly both the spiritual and the physical truths underlying religion and the various branches of medical science. Daily papers and magazines are giving a great deal of space to this experiment in "psychotherapy," which is discussed in the chapter on Mental Hygiene. Schools and chairs in preventive hygiene would soon give to the medical profession a point of view that would welcome every new truth, such as the alliance of religion and medicine, and estimate its full worth promptly. Truth seeking would be not only encouraged but made a condition of professional standing.
Just what attitude any particular physician takes can be learned by the teacher or parents whose children he treats. If he pooh-poohs or resents board of health regulations as to isolation of scarlet-fever patients, he is a dangerous man, no matter how noble his personal character. If he says cross-eyes will straighten, weak eyes will strengthen, or nose-stopping adenoids "absorb," he is bound to do harm. If he says tuberculosis is incurable, noncommunicable, hereditary, or curable by drugs, or if he tries to cure cancer by osteopathy, he can do more injury than an insane criminal. If he fails to teach a mother how to bathe, feed, and clothe the baby, how to ventilate a room for the sick or the well, he is an expensive luxury for family or for school, and belongs to an age that knew neither school nor preventive hygiene. If he takes no interest in health administration; if he overlooks unclean milk or unclean streets, open sewers, and unsanitary school buildings, street cars, churches, and theaters; if he does not help the health board, the public hospitals, the schools, the factory, and tenement departments enforce sanitary laws, he is derelict as a citizen and as a member of an "exalted profession." If he sees only the patients he himself treats or one particular malady, he is derelict as a teacher, no matter how charming his personality or how skilled in his specialty. If a school physician is slovenly in his work, if he spends fifteen minutes when he is paid for an hour, should the efficient school-teacher conceal the fact from her superiors because he is a physician? If private hospitals misrepresent facts or compromise with political evils for the sake of a gift of public money, their offense is more heinous because of their exalted purpose. The test of a physician's worth to his patients and to his community is not what he is or what he has learned, and not what his profession might be, but what happens to patient and to community. Human welfare demands that the medical profession be judged by what it does, not by what it might do if it made the best possible use of its knowledge or its opportunity.
Too Many Physicians And Even Maternity Hospitals Fail To Teach Mothers, Either Before Or After Babies Are Born Caroline Rest Educational Fund Was Given To Show The Value Of Such Teaching
A dispensary that treats more patients than it can care for properly is no better than a street-car company that chronically provides too few seats and too many straps. Unless physicians test themselves and their profession by results, we shall be compelled to "municipalize the medical man." Preventable sickness costs too much, causes too much wretchedness, and hampers too many modern educational and industrial activities to be neglected. If the medical profession does not fit itself to serve general interests, then cities, counties, and states will take to themselves the cure as well as the prevention of communicable and other preventable sickness. Human life and public health are more precious than the medical profession, more important even than theories and traditions against public interference in private matters. The unreasoning opposition of medical men to government protection of health, their concentration on cure, and their tardy emphasis on prevention have forced many communities to stumble into the evil practices mentioned in Chapter XVI. Incidentally, the best physicians have learned that the prosperity of their profession increases with every increase in the general standard of living. It is the man in the ten-room house not the man in one room who supports physicians in luxury. It is the healthy man and the healthy community that value efficient medical service.