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The following is a guest blog by Dr. Anthony Sanfilippo, the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Medical Education.

The Museum of Health Care: Documenting our Inspirational History

The following is a guest blog by Dr. Anthony Sanfilippo, the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Medical Education. The original post can be found on his blog.

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Inspiration is one of those things we all intuitively understand, but defies clear definition. The best I’ve come across is “stimulation or arousal of the mind to special or unusual activity or creativity”. Sounds a little too clinical. Perhaps better capturing the spirit of inspiration are a couple of quotes from fairly famous folks who have more than a passing familiarity with the topic:

“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.”

– Saul Bellow

“I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking.”

– Albert Einstein

What seems clear is that inspiration drives creative discovery and innovation in all fields of human endeavor, from the arts to fundamental science. It comes upon us unexpectedly, almost like a gift from above, but we need to be prepared to receive it, open to possibilities, open to novel ideas, willing to challenge convention.

I was “inspired” to consider “inspiration” recently when asked to provide some remarks at a showcase highlighting the role of the Museum of Health Care in our community.

As one looks over the various displays and artifacts in its impressive collection, it’s easy to feel a little smug and even amused by the quaintness and crudeness of some of the devices and approaches that are no longer in use. In reality, each new retractor, forceps, sterilization technique or monitoring device represents an occurrence of inspiration and creative innovation. Behind each display lurks a physician or scientist who had an idea and, by virtue of their unique contribution, advanced the standard of care for the patients of their day. They also contributed to a line of continuing innovation that reaches us today. They remind us that we have no monopoly on creativity, industry, or dedication to the care of our patients. Certainly no monopoly on inspiration.

The showcase provided an opportunity for our students and faculty to not only view and experience the richness of our heritage but also reflect on our place in it. Dr. Susan Lamb, our interim Hannah Chair in History of Medicine provided a fascinating perspective on the impact of Laennec and his contribution to the development of the stethoscope.

It’s particularly reassuring that the inspiration for this showcase came from one of the youngest among us. Chantalle Valliquette, one of our QuARMS students, shown here with Dr. Jennifer McKenzie (QuARMS Co-Director) and Theresa Suart (Educational Developer), developed and promoted this idea as part of her community outreach project, together with the support and capable assistance of Museum of Health Care staff Maxime Chouinard, Jenny Stepa, Ashley Mendes, Deanna Way, Kathy Karkut and Diana Gore.

Knowing that such dedicated folks are safeguarding and promoting our heritage is, well, inspiring.

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I’d like to thank Dr. Sanfilippo for kindly contributing this post to the Dean on Campus blog. Please share your thoughts on our inspirational history in the comments below or, better yet, drop by the Macklem House. My door is always open.

Richard

Robert Reid

Mon, 06/26/2017 - 14:30

I see an important name that needs to be added to this wonderful article about inspiration from Kingston’s Museum of Health Care. Dr Jim Low, former Head of Obstetrics and Gynecology, worked tirelessly for 20 years after his retirement until his passing this year to get this museum up and running. The collection of medical artifacts on display and in storage is second to none in Canada. Ongoing funding remains a challenge and interested parties may wish to contribute through membership or donation.

Robert Reid

Thanks you for this important reminder. Following his retirement, Dr. Low founded the Museum of Health Care in 1991. He also served as its inaugural volunteer executive director until the end of 2012 and continued to volunteer with the museum as its advancement officer. He is indeed deserving of our recognition and we are grateful for all of the hard work he put into this museum.

Richard

reznickr

Bill Moore (Meds '62)

Mon, 06/26/2017 - 14:30

I am really glad that important historical artifacts are being preserved at Queen’s. Often, organizations evolve and forget their past or have no record of it, even if it could be helpful for the future. Thanks for reminding us about the Museum of Health Care.

Bill Moore (Meds '62)

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Mon, 06/26/2017 - 14:31

Oh, it’s really quite interesting and inspiring too. Thanks for sharing such details. I am actually impressed by the achievements you mentioned in your blog.

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