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Honoring Medicine's Fathers

Published:September 22, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2021.08.035
      Conferring the title of “father” (or “founder”) on persons perceived to have been singularly responsible for key advances in medicine has been a long tradition in the profession. Those anointed as such include the likes of Sushruta as the father of plastic surgery, Vesalius as the father of human anatomy, Paracelsus as the father of toxicology, Florence Nightingale as the founder of modern nursing, and so on. Generally, selections have been made by popular acclamation, based on credit for contributions that, on careful examination, might just as appropriately have been shared with others. The following 4 examples illustrate just how tenuous the assigning of priority to particular individuals for critical advances in medicine can be.
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