229. Unity and friendship in the medical society is important.Never has the divide between the practicing work-a-day physician and the non-practicing ivory tower elite physician been greater. It is the cancer of our profession: quick to spread, difficult to contain.
The first, and in some respects the most important, function is that mentioned by the wise founders of your parent society - to lay a foundation for that unity and friendship which is essential to the dignity and usefulness of the profession. Unity and friendship! How we all long for them, but how difficult to attain! Strife seems to be the very life of the practitioner, whose warfare is incessant against disease and against ignorance and prejudice, and, sad to have to admit, he too often lets his angry passions rise against his professional brother. The quarrels of doctors make a pretty chapter in the history of medicine.
Sir William Osler On the Educational Value of the Medical Society, In Aequanimitas, 335-6.
But this should not surprise us. It is a recurrent theme in history, just as Osler was quick to remind us. But the ideal that Osler advocated for has disintegrated under political, financial and partisan agendas that covertly operate without transparency.
If nothing else, social media is helping expose this divide and its corrosive effects on our profession.