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History of Medicine

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Banner with the words The Art of Medicine at the 21st Century.

This is my fourth exhibit over the last 20 years in a series presenting medicine and social healing in our century. When I reviewed my first book, from which the first exhibit was taken (auditing medical school at UCLA, with the Class of '71), and the second, about medical education in its entirety (from the student's first days until a physician's first professional experiences, in the '80's), I realized that another look was timely. I have always focused on the motivations of health care practitioners, as well as their human endeavors. I admire those who study and train to help others at this high level of knowledge and skill, which takes years to achieve and much personal sacrifice. And even with today's technologies and mechanical devices, the traditions of nurturing and intimacy are still here. So again, I show the human side of medicine through images of these physicians at work in their research laboratories, by their patients' bedside, in the operating room, and at conference and studies, but now aided with new knowledge. There is an enormous amount of creative energy expended in healing and dealing with the medical enigmas of life.

I place these 27 drawings on a balance sheet of "miracles" and "deficits": We are beginning to understand recombinant gene therapy. We have MRI for diagnosis, drugs and machinery to aid surgery for transplanting organs and to repair the hearts of newborns and to keep the very young and old alive. World-wide medical computer programs extend knowledge. But, we have a darker nature: we have crises in emergency rooms due to guns, child abuse, alcohol and drugs. We have an epidemic rise of AIDS, low birth weight and crack babies, many of whom will be permanently damaged. In my home city, one-third of the children receive only emergency medical care and one fourth live below the poverty line, breeding crime and illness. How we treat the defenseless among us, the ill, the very young and old, the poor, is as much a measure of the greatness of our civilization as our vaunted discoveries. We have come to know a lot more than we have implemented.

May H. Lesser's autograph.

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About the Artist/Author

Last Reviewed: May 11, 2012