Osler and Australia

Sir William Osler (1849-1919) casts a long shadow.

A hundred years later, and we are still under his spell. Among his many achievements and contributions he helped combine the best of German and English medicine, thus helping to shift of the epicenter of medical progress to North America. Interestingly, among his many famous quotations, there is this:’… the current may turn towards the [medical] schools of the great nations of the south … the Africander, the Australian, or the New Zealander may reach a development before which even ‘the glory that was Greece’ may pale’

Milton Roxanas has two articles in the most recent issue of the Medical Journal of Australia that will be of interest to like-minded oslerphiles. The first article examines the life and medical influences of William Osler in the context of his Australian connections, and the second looks at his encounters with Australians and the Australian legacy that he left.’Osler’s influence on Australia was similar to that on other countries. The Australian edition of his textbook taught the principles of medicine to a generation of doctors. Those fortunate enough to visit or meet him took pride in the experience and were inspired to practise medicine with high ideals and humanity. His writings and timeless sayings (eg, “take heed to [your] education, and [your] reputation will take care of itself”) are often quoted because they have well articulated wisdom, even in this age of molecular medicine. His cautious attitude to medication (“man has an inborn craving for medicine”) is a constant warning to those practising polypharmacy. He also highlighted the need for continuing medical education by stating “it is astonishing with how little reading a doctor can practice medicine, but it is not astonishing how badly he may do it”. The employment of modern tests, be they chemical, imaging or pathological, do not lessen the need to be wise, well read, experienced, and compassionate towards the patient, in spite of the help given by computers and other technology. Australian doctors, medical teachers and writers continue to look to Osler’s guidance in applying his principles to modern medical practice.’
— excerpt from Roxanas MG, 2010 (part 2).

I would humbly add LITFL to Osler’s Australian legacy.


  • Roxanas MG. Osler and his Australian associations – part 1: during his life. Med J Aust. 2010 Dec 6;193(11-12):686-9. PMID: 21143060.
  • Roxanas MG. Osler and his Australian associations – part 2: continuing influence. Med J Aust. 2010 Dec 6;193(11-12):690-3. PMID: 21143061.

Chris is an Intensivist and ECMO specialist at the Alfred ICU in Melbourne. He is also a Clinical Adjunct Associate Professor at Monash University. He is a co-founder of the Australia and New Zealand Clinician Educator Network (ANZCEN) and is the Lead for the ANZCEN Clinician Educator Incubator programme. He is on the Board of Directors for the Intensive Care Foundation and is a First Part Examiner for the College of Intensive Care Medicine. He is an internationally recognised Clinician Educator with a passion for helping clinicians learn and for improving the clinical performance of individuals and collectives.

After finishing his medical degree at the University of Auckland, he continued post-graduate training in New Zealand as well as Australia’s Northern Territory, Perth and Melbourne. He has completed fellowship training in both intensive care medicine and emergency medicine, as well as post-graduate training in biochemistry, clinical toxicology, clinical epidemiology, and health professional education.

He is actively involved in in using translational simulation to improve patient care and the design of processes and systems at Alfred Health. He coordinates the Alfred ICU’s education and simulation programmes and runs the unit’s education website, INTENSIVE.  He created the ‘Critically Ill Airway’ course and teaches on numerous courses around the world. He is one of the founders of the FOAM movement (Free Open-Access Medical education) and is co-creator of litfl.com, the RAGE podcast, the Resuscitology course, and the SMACC conference.

His one great achievement is being the father of three amazing children.

On Twitter, he is @precordialthump.

| INTENSIVE | RAGE | Resuscitology | SMACC

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