William Osler

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Sir William Osler, M.D., C.M., 1st Baronet (July 12, 1849 – December 29, 1919) was a Canadian physician. (The "o" in "Osler" is pronounced like the "o" in "go".) He was one of the "Big Four" founding professors at Johns Hopkins Hospital as the first Professor of Medicine and founder of the Medical Service there. (The "Big Four" were William Osler, Professor of Medicine; William Stewart Halsted, Professor of Surgery; Howard A. Kelly, Professor of Gynecology; and William H. Welch, Professor of Pathology.) Osler created the first residency program for specialty training of physicians, and he was the first to bring medical students out of the lecture hall for bedside clinical training.[1]

He has been called the "Father of modern medicine."[2] Osler was a pathologist, physician, educator, bibliophile, historian, author, and renowned practical joker.



William's great grandfather, Edward Osler, was variously described as either a merchant seaman or a pirate, and one of William's uncles (Edward Osler 1798-1863), a medical officer in the Navy, wrote the Life of Lord Exmouth and the poem The Voyage. William Osler's father, Featherstone Lake Osler (1805-1895), the son of a shipowner at Falmouth, Cornwall, was a former Lieutenant in the Royal Navy and served on H.M.S. Victory. In 1831 Featherstone Osler was invited to serve on H.M.S. Beagle as the science officer on Charles Darwin's historic voyage to the Galápagos Islands, but he turned it down as his father was dying. As a teenager Featherstone Osler was aboard H.M.S. Sappho when it was nearly destroyed by Atlantic storms and left adrift for weeks. Serving in the Navy he was ship-wrecked off Barbados. In 1837 Featherstone Osler retired from the Navy and emigrated to Canada, becoming a 'saddle-bag minister' in rural Upper Canada. When Featherstone Osler and his bride (Ellen Free Picton) arrived in Canada they were nearly ship-wrecked again on Egg Island in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The Oslers had several children and William was the brother of Britton Bath Osler and Sir Edmund Boyd Osler.

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