Not enough
Clarity and certainty are essential to surgeons in training, at least until they discover that clarity is not enough and certainty does not exist.
Le Vay D. The life of Hugh Owen Thomas, 1956

Cardiac Surgery
"Any surgeon who wishes to preserve the respect of his colleagues would never attempt to suture the heart."
From a speech by Christian Albert Theodor Billroth  at the Vienna Medical Society Meeting, 1880
"Surgery of the heart has probably reached the limits set by Nature to all surgery: no new method, and no new discovery, can overcome the natural difficulties that attend a wound of the heart."
Stephen Paget, The Surgery of the Chest, 1896
A prayer
    From inability to let well alone; 
    From too much zeal for the new and contempt for what is old; 
    From putting knowledge before wisdom, science before art, and cleverness before common sense; 
    From treating patients as cases; and 
    From making the cure of the disease more grievous than the endurance of the same; 
    Good Lord, deliver us.
Sir Robert Hutchison (1871 - 1960) BMJ 1953;1:671
A choice
Medicine is my lawful wedded wife and literature my mistress. When one gets on my nerves, I spend the night with the other.
Anton Chekhov
After the cure
Every patient is a doctor after his cure
Irish proverb
Lots of remedies
When a lot of remedies are suggested for a disease, that means it can’t be cured
Anton Chekov, The Cherry Orchard
Optimistic lies
Optimistic lies have such immense therapeutic value that a doctor who cannot tell them convincingly has mistaken his profession.
George Bernard Shaw. Preface to Misalliance 1914.
The difference
A doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.
Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959).
Medical Case Reports 
A picture produces a thousand words

A hideous demon
Three shapes a doctor wears. At first we hail
The angel; then the god, if he prevail,
Last, when, the cure complete, he asks his fee,
A hideous demon he appears to be
Doctor and patient (translated by WFH King in Classical Quotations)
Surgical Training
The life so short, the craft so long to learn.
The art of surgery
Surgery is derived from the Latin chirugery meaning "hard work." The surgeon does more than just working with his or her hands, however, as alluded to by St Francis of Assisi:

He who works with his hands is a labourer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.
Kamran Baig, research scholar, Department of Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, NC, USA
The noble profession
Medicine, the only profession that labours incessantly to destroy the reason for its existence.
James Bryce (1838-1922), English diplomat and author; ambassador to the United states, 1907-13
Good Lord, deliver us
I think there should be a new petition in the litany to be read in hospital chapels or wherever doctors and nurses do, or ought to, congregate. It might be as follows:

"From inability to let well alone; 
from too much zeal for the new and contempt for what is old; 
from putting knowledge before wisdom, 
science before art, and 
cleverness before common sense, 
from treating patients as cases, and 
from making the cure of the disease more grievous than the endurance of the same, 
Good Lord, deliver us."
Robert Hutchinson (BMJ 1953;i:671)
A selection of medical slang courtesy of Hospital Doctor
A selection of psychological jokes (Internet, new window)
A selection of social worker jokes (Internet, new window)
The virtue of surgery
Surgery is the best of the medical sciences; less liable than any other to the fallacy of conjectural or inferential practice; pure in itself; perpetual in its applicability; the worthy produce of heaven and the certain source of fame. 
Dhanwantaree c 600 BC

Three eternal rules of health systems
	1.	All health services are currently undergoing reform
	2.	The last reform was a disaster
	3.	Somebody somewhere is saying that the current reforms will be bad for patients
(and a fourth? Health Ministers must have been bad people in previous lives in order to be reincarnated as Health Ministers)

Uwe Reinhardt, Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, Princeton
The difference
"God and Doctor we like adore, But only when in danger, not before; The danger o'er, both are alike requited, God is forgotten, and the Doctor slighted."
Robert Owen, British social reformer (1771-1838)
Training anaesthetists
Marshall Joffre, commander of the French armies in the first world war, noted that, "It takes 10 000 to 15 000 lives to train a major general." It doesn't take as many as that to train an anaesthetist, but it does take a certain number. After all, the anaesthetist takes them one at a time.
W Stanley Sykes, in Essays on the first hundred years of anaesthesia, Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 1960.
A healthy state of ignorance
"No one can in five, or even fifty, years learn all that one could wish about disease and its prevention and treatment. You have to go on learning all your lives, and, a healthy state of ignorance is a saving grace."
A Dr Andrews a hundred years ago when welcoming new medical students.
Patenting knowledge
To patent the polio vaccine would be "like patenting the sun."
Jonas Salk
Scientific truth
Every scientific truth goes through three stages. Firstly people say it conflicts with the Bible. Next they say it has been discovered before. Lastly they say they always believed in it.
                                                                                                                                                    Louis Agassiz
The road to fame
There is not a more expeditious road to fame than to speak or write unintelligibly, but with plausibility; nor a more certain mode of doing so, than by a person’s not understanding his own meaning, since with the vulgar, the conclusion will ever appear valid, that he who is above their comprehension must be a great man. For this reason we have heard of late, irritability, sensibility, spasm, incitement, and collapse suggested as the causes of most disorders, with all the parade of affected knowledge, but real ignorance.
                                    Sim JA, A discourse on the best method of prosecuting medical enquiries. 1774
Fads in medicine
One is instantly reminded of the malign influence of fashion on medicine, more than any other science. Even nowadays it is subject to fads, although no science is actually more profitable.
Pliny the Elder, AD 23-79
Amusing the patient
The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while Nature cures the disease.
First law of oncology 

The tumour should shrink quicker than the patient


The word ambisinistrous is the opposite of ambidextrous; it means ‘no good with either hand’.

An elected general
The personal requirements for an elected general: "ingenious, energetic,careful, full of stamina and presence of mind ... loving and tough, straightforward and crafty, ready to gamble everything and wishing to have everything, generous and greedy, trusting and suspicious"
Greek historian Xenophon, writing about the situation in 504BC when the Greek city states were faced with threats of invasion from Persia