Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Last Leaf Has Fallen.

J. Willis Hurst, MD  
(Sunrise 1920 ~ Sunset 2011)

Today is a sad day for the medical community and especially at Emory.  After a long life and influential career of caring for patients and teaching us how to do the same, the iconic clinician-teacher, Dr. J. Willis Hurst, has passed away.  

As a teaching internist at Emory, I am proud to be among those who carry on his ideas and remember his influence as we teach the residents in the very Internal Medicine program named for him--The J. Willis Hurst Internal Medicine Residency Program. I feel fortunate to have been at Emory during his time on faculty, and even more fortunate to help carry the torch that he worked so hard to keep lit in us all.

This morning I am quietly reflecting on Dr. Hurst and his legacy in patient-centered care and medical education. I am sharing a few of his own words, followed by some quotes that he personally found influential. 

"The truth has always been difficult to identify.
Unfortunately, there is every reason to believe that
the future identification of the truth will be even
more difficult than it has been in the past. This is
because there are currently more nonscientific
forces that clutter the mind than there have been in
the past. There is also evidence that such forces will
be accelerated in the future. Accordingly, the identification
of the truth is destined to become the
physician’s greatest problem."

~ J. Willis Hurst


A few of his favorites:

"I am a part of all that I have met."

~ Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1842


"We may affirm absolutely that nothing great in
the world has been accomplished without passion."

~ Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, 1832

"Be not the first to whom the new are tried,
Nor yet the last to lay the old aside."

~ Alexander Pope, 1711


"Your compassion for your patients—trying
to do the best for them—must be the major motivating
force in your effort to remain competent."

~ Dwight C. McGoon

"Press on; nothing in the world can take the place
of persistence. 
Talent will not; nothing is more common
than unsuccessful individuals with talent. 
Genius will not; 
unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; 
the world is full of educated derelicts. 
Persistence and determination alone are

~ President Calvin Coolidge

"Like love, talent is useful only in its expenditure,
and it is never exhausted."

~ E.P. Tuttle, Sr.

"Clay lies still, but blood’s a rover;
Breath’s a ware that will not keep.
Up, lad: when the journey’s over
There’ll be time enough to sleep."

~ Alfred Edward Housman, 1896


Rest in peace, sir. And rest knowing that your legacy never will.


Hurst, JW. Quotations on the Wall. Annals of Internal Medicine. 1999;131:551-554.

1 comment:

  1. to have one such person touch a life, it is something extraordinary.

    you are carrying on his legacy, richly. wherever he has gone, he is smiling.


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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