Tag Archives: Medicine
Th: Jefferson presents his compliments & his thanks to Doctr Ricketson for his treatise on the means of preserving health & the pamphlets he has been so kind as to send him. he shall read the former especially with particular pleasure, having much more confidence in the means of preserving than of restoring health.
To Shadrach Ricketson, June 21, 1809
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Health conscious leaders value prevention ahead of treatment.
Ricketson (1768-1837) was a prominent New York Quaker and physician. In 1806, he published a book, “Means of Preserving Health and Preventing Diseases … This was not so much a book on how to treat and eliminate or reduce disease-related problems as much as it was a book on how to live a long and health[y] life.”
Below the book title on the cover were these words, “Founded principally on an attention to air and climate, drink, food, sleep, exercise, clothing, passions of the mind, and retentions and excretions … Designed not merely for physicians but for the information of others …” (Quoted sections are credited to this site.)
Empirical or evidence-based medicine had a strong appeal to Jefferson. It is what he practiced for himself, his family and his servants. While he engaged a trusted doctor when his larger mountain-top family was threatened, he had great faith in the human body’s recuperative powers if just left alone. Most doctors lacked any real understanding of the human body and were inclined toward experimentation. Jefferson thought doing nothing was better than doing something uninformed.
He was also a great supporter of what we would call “wellness,” with a focus on cleanliness, diet, exercise and rest. Ricketson’s work was right up his alley!
“…our delegates really enjoyed hearing from Mr. Jefferson.
It is amazing how the thoughts, words and events of over 200 years ago transcend time
and are as relevant today as they were then.”
Conference Coordinator, Iowa League of Cities
Thomas Jefferson’s 19th century wisdom is relevant for your 21st century audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
I would wish the young practitioner, especially, to have deeply impressed on his mind, the real limits of his art, & that when the state of his patient gets beyond these, his office is to be a watchful, but quiet spectator of the operations of nature, giving them fair play by a well-regulated regimen, & by all the aid they can derive from the excitement of good spirits & hope in the patient.
To Dr. Caspar Wistar, June 21, 1807
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders are evidence-based, patient and encouraging.
This letter begins with news that Jefferson’s 15 year old grandson will be coming to Philadelphia for higher education. He is asking his old and respected friend for help with young Jeff’s schooling.
Jefferson is particularly concerned about the training of physicians. He goes on a considerable rant about doctors who experiment on their patients, a common practice. Jefferson concluded with this hope that young doctors would limit themselves only to what they know and allow nature to take care of the rest.
Although he’s writing about medical practice, this is good advice for the practitioner of any craft:
1. Know your limits. Stick with what you know very well.
2. When you get to the end of your knowledge and ability, stop, wait and watch.
3. See what “cure” might result from your doing nothing.
4. Encourage common sense (“a well-regulated regimen”).
5. Encourage “good spirits & hope” while you wait.
“Your portrayal of Thomas Jefferson would be a tremendous program for any organization …”
Executive Director, Missouri School Boards Association
For a “tremendous program” for your audience, invite Thomas Jefferson to speak!
Call Patrick Lee, 573-657-2739