My sweet sister is paying a quick visit to the hospital this week, so doctors are on my mind just a smidgen. Good doctors, that is. They better be very good doctors! They can just take this as a warning ~ don’t mess with Miss Abigail’s family! Oh, sorry, where was I . . . ah, yes, good doctors, nice doctors.
This advice is from C. H. Fowler’s Home and Health and Home Economics. It’s somewhat helpful, though I don’t know how I feel about the need for the doctor to be “a man, in the true sense of the word.” Of course this was published in the 1800s, and based on the advice of an “able member of the profession,” so I guess I can’t be too critical.
1880: Qualities of a Good Doctor by a Doctor
Here is a very suggestive summary of hints covering the question of choosing a physician. It has the authority of an experienced and able member of the profession. Read and ponder: ~
Avoid the mean man, for you may be sure he will be a mean doctor, just as certainly as he would make a mean husband.
Avoid a dishonest man; he will not be honest with you as your physician.
Shun the doctor that you can buy to help you out of a scrape; a good doctor cannot be bought.
Avoid the untidy, course, blundering fellow, though he may bear the parchments of a medical college.
Avoid the doctor who flatters you, and humors your lusts and appetites.
Avoid the man who puts on an extra amount of airs; be assured that it is done to cover his ignorance.
Avoid the empty blow-horn, who boasts of his numerous cases, and tells you of his seeing forty or fifty patients a day, while he spends two hours to convince you of the fact. Put him down for a fool.
To be a doctor one must first be a man in the true sense of the word.
He should be a moral man, honest in his dealings.
He must have good sense, or he cannot be a good doctor.
He should be strictly temperate. No one should trust his life in the hands of an intemperate doctor.
He must have some mechanical genius, or it is impossible for him to be a good surgeon.
It is a good sign if he tells you how to keep well.
It is a good sign if the members of his own family respect him.
It is a good sign if the children like him.
It is a good sign if he is neat and handy at making pills and folding powders.
It is a good sign if he is still a student, and keeps posted in all the latest improvements known to the profession for alleviating human suffering.
Source: Fowler, C. H. and W. H. De Puy. Home and Health and Home Economics. New York: Phillips & Hunt, 1880.
~ pp. 66-67 ~