The “Big Four”

The founding faculty of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine comprised some of the most respected medical men of their era. All were innovators with rigorous standards of practice, research and training.

They set the bar high for other medical schools, and many of their graduates went on to establish or transform other programs around the country.

The Big FourWilliam Welch, who helped the university's president, Daniel Coit Gilman, assemble the team, was a pathologist;  William Osler, the internist who oversaw the department of medicine, was a Canadian considered the finest doctor practicing in the United States; William Stewart Halsted headed up surgery; and Howard Kelly, gynecology and obstetrics.

The original "Big Four" are depicted here in John Singer Sargent's "The Four Doctors," which hangs in the medical library on the Johns Hopkins campus.

At a time when individual doctors could be institutions unto themselves, Osler introduced the concept of the medical residency, and Welch a training program in advanced techniques for full-fledged doctors that resembled a modern post-doctoral course. Welch also founded the country's first school of public health. Kelly established his own cancer clinic.

Halsted taught his students to operate at a new level of skill and care, and was responsible for introducing the use of surgical gloves, which in beginning were meant merely to protect doctors' and nurses' hands.

Two months, 25 blog posts!

Bring on the party hats!

I started my blog on Jan 3, full of trepidation about whether I would be able to keep up with posting three times a week about pregnancy, childbirth, medical history, maternal mortality, etc. After all, I have a job, a family, a dog, and on and on.

But I can do this! And I've learned a lot!

Rubber Ducks

What's next?

My most popular post so far was "Birth in Haiti." You could've knocked me over with a feather.

My own favorites were the two posts I wrote after interviewing Robbie Goodrich, who lost his wife, Susan, last year to amniotic fluid embolism. Robbie was kind enough to talk with me while planning a big birthday celebration for his son, Charles Moses, and honoring Susan's memory on the anniversary of her death.

Career adviser Penelope Trunk tells bloggers not to succumb to the temptation to start that second blog. Penelope, you read my mind! I have been thinking how much fun it would be to lighten up a little, loosen up the voice, write about something else besides the point in childbirth at which bliss and safety concerns intersect.

But you know what? Penelope is right. "Birth Story" is my topic, because for 12 years, since I survived an amniotic fluid embolism during my younger daughter's birth, I have been fascinated with extreme childbirth. So I am going to stay with the difficult stories, the life-saving innovations and all those mixed emotions.

I enjoy the immediacy of blogging, and "meeting" other bloggers, many of whom are moms as well. I've settled into a Monday/Wednesday/Friday publishing schedule. And I'm still finding my voice.

So now we'll embark on the next leg of the journey. Maybe every couple of months I'll drop in a totally irrelevant picture like the one above and celebrate a little, just like today!

A health consumer’s BFF

Health consumer, meet your first best friend, Johannes Gutenberg.

Johannes Gutenberg

Johannes Gutenberg

Of all the instruments and processes medical researchers have invented, none has been more important to the advancement of medicine than the printing press, which Gutenberg developed in the mid-15th century, publishing 180 copies of his celebrated Bible around 1455.

A former goldsmith, Gutenberg developed moveable type that could be made of wood or metal, and adapted a wine press to imprint the image on the paper.

Soon, scholars and scientists all over Europe were exchanging ideas. Relatively few people could read at the time, and books were expensive, but that ability to convey information to more than a small group at a time resulted in an explosion of understanding of how the world works.

For the record, the Chinese invented moveable type hundreds of years before Gutenberg did.