A Diligent Effort
eminence in America in their various callings [who] most graciously [came] to Dartmouth to make worthy disciples and to repel unworthy ones."
Cushing was, not surprisingly, the exemplar of medicine. A few weeks before his trip to Hanover, he inquired in a letter to Vernon: "Can you tell me . . . for what purpose Room No. 6, the northeast corner of the first story of Dartmouth Hall, where Nathan Smith first startedmedical teaching at Dartmouth, is at present utilized and whether there is any marker on the room or building to indicate the historical association? If not, I would like to have my honorarium for the lecture utilized for the purpose."
It was President Hopkins who responded to the question. He wrote back to inform Cushing that the old Dartmouth Hall had burned down in 1904, so there would be "no essential truth to any marker." But Hopkins did express interest in the idea of a "tablet" commemorating Smith and proposed placing it in the building that had housed the Medical School since 1811; Smith himself had overseen construction of the building, which was the first structure in the U.S. built for the purpose of medical education.
On November 20, 1928, Cushing spoke in 103 Dartmouth Hall on "The Ideals, Opportunities, and Difficulties in a Medical Career." An edited version of his remarks was published in 1929 in a monograph titled The Medical Career, which was widely distributed to Dartmouth premedical and medical students and to DMS alumni.
Cushing began his talk by expressing the hope "that what I may have to say will produce from among you some good physicians and repel some incapable ones. There is, in reality, little to be said, other than that medicine has become so manysided that anyone with a good head, a good heart, or skillful hands who is possessed of a spirit of service, who is not afraid of hard work, and who will be satisfied with a modest income, will find ample opportunity for happiness and for
At his 1928 lecture on careers in medicine, although Cushing said that he "did not set out to make this address center about Nathan Smith," much of the speech is indeed about the "indelible imprint of his personality on this, your beloved Dartmouth."
the exercise of his talents." He went on to highlight the many careers possible within medicine—physician or surgeon, investigator or health official—in remarks that are as relevant to students of today as they were to those of 1928.
Although Cushing said he "did not set out to make this address center about Nathan Smith," much of the speech is indeed about the "indelible imprint of his personality on this, your beloved Dartmouth." He lauded Smith's contributions to Dartmouth and told an amusing story about an early Dartmouth president, John Wheelock, who attended one of Smith's lectures. Wheelock was "so impressed [by the lecture] that at the ensuing evening prayers in the old chapel he gave thanks as follows: 'O Lord, we thank Thee for the Oxygen Gas; we thank
Thee for the Hydrogen Gas; and for all gases. We thank Thee for the Cerebrum; we thank Thee for the Cerebellum; and for the Medulla Oblongata.'"
Yet Cushing was also critical of the process of medical education. He explained that Smith's chance meeting with Josiah Goodhue was instrumental to the former's career in medicine. "And," Cushing continued, "I am not at all sure that we nowadays go about our selection of candidates for the profession in the right way, by insisting on an unduly long preparation in the premedical sciences before those aspiring to be doctors are ever brought in contact with patients. It is possibly a good way of selecting those who are likely to become medical cientists, but in the process many who have the natural gifts for medical practice are apt to become sidetracked." Cushing would surely be dismayed by the fact that similar thoughts are heard from present-day premeds, as they struggle through courses in calculus, organic chemistry, and physics.
Upon his return to Boston, Cushing wrote Hopkins to thank him for the chance to speak in