Francis Weld Peabody
Francis Weld Peabody (1881–1927) was an American physician born November 24, 1881, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was famous for his extensive research into poliomyelitis and typhoid, as well as being one of the most quoted teachers at Harvard Medical School. His father, Francis Greenwood Peabody, (1847–1936) was a Harvard graduate and minister.
Early life and education
Peabody was the third of four children: William, Gertrude, Francis, and John.
He finished his formal schooling in 1898, graduating from the Browne and Nichols School in Cambridge, Mass, with mediocre grades. In May, 1899, both Francis and his younger brother John were stricken with typhoid while on vacation in Florence, Italy. The younger brother died on May 27. It is believed that the death of his younger brother played a role in Francis’ decision to choose medicine as a career.
He graduated from Harvard College in 1903 and entered Harvard Medical School in September. Despite his unremarkable academic record up to this point, Francis Peabody excelled in medical school. During his studies at Harvard Medical School, he distinguished himself as a compassionate physician, committing long hours to case studies and devoting his attention to each patient he came into contact with. He graduated in June 1907 with honors.
In 1910 he worked in the chemistry laboratory of Franz Joseph Emil Fischer. From 1912-1915 he worked at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital as a resident physician. In 1915 he became an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and in 1921 he became a professor there.
After graduating from medical school, he served a one-year internship on the Medical Service of the Massachusetts General Hospital. This marked the beginning of a career that was highlighted by his genuine interest in his patients, setting himself apart from contemporary doctors of his time by showing sympathy and compassion, and treating each patient not according to their disease or disorder, but instead as individuals and real people. Among his postings, he worked at distinguished hospitals including Johns Hopkins, Rockefeller Hospital, Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, and Boston City Hospital.
Dr. Peabody arrived in Peking, China on April 18, 1914 for an extensive medical trip, and after returning home for nearly three years, left for Romania in August 1917 on a Red Cross Commission to serve their desperate needs during World War I. In February 1918, the Romanian government ended hostilities with Germany and the German government ordered all French, British and American relief operations to leave the country. Dr. Peabody left Romania and travelled to Moscow, where he arrived in November 1917, in order to acquire supplies for his hospital in Romania before the German takeover. Housed in a hotel-turned-hospital near the Kremlin, Dr. Peabody became a refugee and eye-witness to the Bolshevik Revolution. He finally returned home unharmed in early 1918.
Marriage and family life
Francis W. Peabody married Virginia Chandler on December 19, 1919. Together they had two sons: Francis Weld Peabody Jr. and Grigsby Chandler Peabody, born on April 22, 1924, and December 16, 1925, respectively.
The Care of the Patient
One of the essential qualities of the clinician is interest in humanity, for the secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient. Dr. Francis Peabody is most often quoted in his essay The Care of the Patient, which first appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Since it was published, it has become part of medical school curriculum and is said to be as valid today as it was at the time he first presented it. He also published another essay, The Patient and the Man, which presented his ideas along the same line.
Dr. Peabody died of cancer in 1927. While stricken, on his death bead, he wrote objectively about the effects of morphine, which is also a widely cited essay.
- The Patient and the Man (November 22, 1922)
- The Care of the Patient (JAMA 1927; 88:877-882)
- Notes on the Effects of Morphine (October 8, 1927)
- Paul, Oglesby (1991) The Caring Physician: The Life of Doctor Francis Peabody, which was reviewed-
- Davidson, C. S. (1993). "Book Review the Caring Physician: The Life of Dr. Francis W. Peabody by Oglesby Paul. 220 pp., illustrated. Boston, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, 1991. $24.95. (Distributed by Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.) 0-674-09738-6". New England Journal of Medicine. 328 (11): 817–818. doi:10.1056/NEJM199303183281123.
- Dirckx, J. H. (1992). "The Caring Physician: The Life of Dr Francis W. Peabody". JAMA: the Journal of the American Medical Association. 268 (6): 735–736. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490060067020.
- Tishler, P. V. (1992). ""The care of the patient": A living testimony to Francis Weld Peabody". The Pharos of Alpha Omega Alpha-Honor Medical Society. Alpha Omega Alpha. 55 (3): 32–36. PMID 1409858.
- Rosenau, M. J. (March 1929). "Francis Weld Peabody (1881-1927)". Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. American Academy of Arts & Sciences. 63 (12): 462–468. JSTOR 20026236.
- "Francis Weld Peabody". Journal of Clinical Investigation. 5: 1.b1. 1927. doi:10.1172/JCI100142.
- Kittisupamongkol, W. (2010). "Francis Weld Peabody's Classic Quotation". The American Journal of Gastroenterology. 105 (3): 699. doi:10.1038/ajg.2009.662.
- no writer attributed (October 14, 1927). "Francis Weld Peabody". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 24 September 2013.