10 quotes every enlightened physician should live by

By John Murphy, MDLinx
Published March 29, 2019

Key Takeaways

Wisdom, like a pill, is swallowed most easily when it’s in its smallest concentrated form. In honor of National Doctors Day (March 30), here are some pithy words of wisdom for practicing physicians.

May these enlightening quotations remind you of why you became a physician, gladden you that you’ve chosen the right calling, and reignite your dedication to the profession and to the caring of your patients.

“Cure sometimes, treat often, and comfort always.” — Hippocrates

“The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.” — Sir William Osler, FRS, FRCP

“A merry heart is a good medicine; but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” — Proverbs

“Wherever the art of Medicine is loved, there is also a love of Humanity.” — Hippocrates

“The practice of medicine is an art, not a trade; a calling, not a business; a calling in which your heart will be exercised equally with your head. Often the best part of your work will have nothing to do with potions and powders, but with the exercise of an influence of the strong upon the weak, of the righteous upon the wicked, of the wise upon the foolish.” — Sir William Osler, FRS, FRCP

“Drugs don't work in patients who don’t take them.” — C. Everett Koop, MD, ScD

“As any doctor can tell you, the most crucial step toward healing is having the right diagnosis. If the disease is precisely identified, a good resolution is far more likely. Conversely, a bad diagnosis usually means a bad outcome, no matter how skilled the physician.” — Andrew Weil, MD

“Live neither in the past nor in the future, but let each day’s work absorb your entire energies and satisfy your widest ambition.” — Sir William Osler, FRS, FRCP

“People pay the doctor for his trouble; for his kindness, they still remain in his debt.” — Seneca

“I’ve never bought this idea of taking a therapeutic distance. If I see a student or house staff cry, I take great faith in that. That’s a great person, they’re going to be a great doctor.” — Abraham C. Verghese, MD, MACP

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