"Medicine is a science of uncertainty and an art of probability" ~ William Osler

Unveiling Osler's Legacy: A Student's Reflection on the Annual Meeting in Kansas City, with Jack Plewa


Unveiling Osler's Legacy: A Student's Reflection on the Annual Meeting in Kansas City

Jack Plewa, MS2, MD-PhD, UTMB

What an experience. What an honor. To be in the presence of so many amazing healers, all practicing or having practiced Oslerian medicine in their careers.

Kansas City treated us well, allowing us to convene at the Westin at Crown Center, a beautiful and perfectly central location to share ideals, exchange stories, and talk history.

From Dr. Bernard Karnath’s insightful talk on Sir William Osler himself to Dr. Jong Lee’s captivating presentation on the Mayo Brothers, the conference was a platform for rich discussions on influential figures who have shaped the landscape of modern medicine. The meeting boasted 59 presentations across 9 different subject categories, showcasing a significant growth compared to the 27 papers presented at the 32nd annual meeting held in Kansas City in 2002.

One particularly thought-provoking session was led by Dr. Michael Emmett, recipient of the John P. McGovern Award, who delved into the intersection of medicine, genocide, Nazi atrocities, and postwar justice. His exploration of medical eponyms, including the renaming of conditions previously attributed to individuals associated with Nazi ideology, shed light on the ethical complexities within medical history. For instance, the renaming of Asperger's syndrome to autism spectrum disorder and Churg-Strauss syndrome to eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis, despite the latter's creators not being Nazis, exemplifies the broader impact of historical associations on medical nomenclature.

Additionally, The William B. Bean Student Research Award recipients, including Sophia Hu, Saman Arfaie, and Neevya Balasubramaniam, presented engaging research spanning topics from gender affirmation surgery to Leonardo Da Vinci’s medical contributions, enriching the conference with diverse perspectives.

Building upon this diversity, the presentations were categorized under themes such as Osler Connections, Contemporary Discourse, and Museum Worthy. The presentations offered insights into various facets of medical history and practice. Of particular note was Grayson Jackson's discussion on the historical legacy of transgender medicine in Galveston, TX, underscoring the ongoing importance of equitable healthcare access.

Moreover, the Contemporary Discourse section featured presentations exclusively led by medical students, covering diverse topics from women’s health to euthanasia and artificial intelligence. This underscores the vital role of the younger generation in driving discussions on modern medical issues and advocating for positive change in the healthcare landscape.

Amidst the intellectual discourse, the conference also provided opportunities for networking, cultural exploration, and culinary delights. Attendees enjoyed complimentary meals and optional receptions at notable local landmarks, such as the University of Kansas Medical Center and the National World War I Museum and Memorial, enriching the overall experience beyond the academic realm.

Exploring Kansas City’s vibrant culture, from its bustling free streetcar to quaint tea houses, added an extra layer of enjoyment to the conference experience. The city’s charm complemented the scholarly pursuits, creating a memorable blend of academic and leisure activities. As I left Shang’s Tea House with only a cup of tea in hand, my bank account breathed a sigh of relief, knowing it had escaped the temptation of beautifully crafted jewelry and Japanese tea sets.

Overall, attending the annual meeting of the American Osler Society was a rewarding experience. It offered not only academic enrichment but also cultural immersion and networking opportunities.

From the socio-medical history of hotdog eating contests to William Osler's views on medical hypnotism, there was a plethora of topics to engage in productive discourse. As I reflect on the wealth of knowledge shared and connections made, I look forward to future conferences and the continued exploration of Oslerian principles in modern medicine.

If you're interested in delving further into the abstracts presented, visit the Osler Society website here. Stay tuned for further details and application information later this year regarding the upcoming annual meeting, scheduled to take place in Pasadena, CA from May 2nd to 5th, 2025.



Bio: Jack is a rising second-year MD-PhD student at the University of Texas Medical Branch. He was the Editor-in-Chief of his college’s student media outlet The Chronicle/ncclinked.com. He is currently doing research with Dr. Dennis Bente in the Galveston National Lab studying Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever virus and the role C-type lectin receptors play in viral entry into host cells.

LinkedIn Profile: www.linkedin.com/in/jack-plewa

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