Born:

July 12, 1849

(Bond Head, Ontario)

Died:

December 29, 1919

Education:

MD, McGill University (1862)

Awards & Honours:

1912: Honorary DSc, Trinity College

1912: Honorary DLC, Durham University

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Picture of Sir William Osler

Moved medical education to the wards

Sir William Osler

Beloved educator and brilliant pathologist

One of the most influential early leaders in medicine, Sir William Osler was a mentor to thousands of students in his lifetime. His revolutionary approach to medical education and views on patient care were decades ahead of his time. Often referred to as the “Father of Modern Medicine,” his ideas forever transformed the practice of medicine and his principles and methods undoubtedly live on in today’s physicians. In addition to his ground-breaking training methods, Osler brought a sense of humanism to the practice of medicine. His warm, compassionate and eloquent manner of patient interaction, while remaining grounded in strong medical knowledge, transformed the idea of appropriate “bedside manner.”

Key Facts

Introduced modern methods of teaching physiology and Canada’s first course is clinical microscopy

Completed over 1,000 autopsies

Brought students out of the lecture hall and into direct contact with patients

His idea of clinical clerkship developed into the first residency program

His medical descriptions resulted in various conditions bearing his name

Was an avid collector of books

Professional timeline

Impact on lives today

Generations later, Osler’s model for training medical students persists and his once radical principles became the foundation of modern medical education. In addition, his influential writing, leadership and personal charisma established a standard for physician behaviour that remains relevant to modern physicians today.

Picture of Sir William Osler at work

1994

  • Sir William Osler posthumously inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame

    London, Ontario

  • A leading authority in the teaching of medicine, Osler was appointed as Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University.

    His time at Oxford was filled with research as well as frequent interaction with students and colleagues.

  • The Principles and Practice of Medicine textbook

    Osler published his popular textbook, "Principles and Practices of Medicine".

    Health and Medical Education & Training

    His textbook is still a classic in the medical field. Over the years, new editions of the text have been published and it has been translated into many different languages.

  • Reproduced by permission of the Osler Library of the History of Medicine, McGill University

    Osler was appointed Chief of Medicine at the new Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and was instrumental in establishing the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

    Health and Medical Education & Training

    He shifted the traditional academic model of teaching medicine away from the textbook and brought medical students to the bedsides of the afflicted, emphasizing the importance of practical training.

  • Osler was offered a position at the Medical Faculty at the University of Pennsylvania.

    He was given full authority to develop clinical medicine and continued his intensive work in pathology, expanded his clinical activities, and again showed his remarkable capacity for promoting cooperation.

  • Reproduced by permission of the Osler Library of the History of Medicine, McGill University

    Osler returned to his alma mater and was appointed lecturer at McGill.

    Given the rank of Professor in 1875, he earned a reputation for teaching and clinical excellence.

  • Reproduced by permission of the Osler Library of the History of Medicine, McGill University

    After completing his MD at McGill University, Osler travelled Europe, pursuing post-graduate education

    He returned to Canada with definite ideas on how clinical medicine could work more efficiently and with a greater human touch.

  • After completing one year of study in Divinity at the University of Toronto, Osler decided to pursue medicine.

    The superior clinical facilities at McGill encouraged him to switch schools for his final years of training.

1868

Listen to your patients, they are telling you the diagnosis.