Careers in Anesthesiology Autobiographical Memoirs Volume VII. By Bernard V. Wetchler, M.D., Jay Jacoby, M.D., Ph.D., Daniel C. Moore, M.D. Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology, Park Ridge, Illinois, 2002. ISBN: 1889595098. Pages: 315. Price: $45.
Dr. Paul Wood, Dr. Ralph Waters, Dr. Henry Ruth, Dr. James Gwathmay—many in the field of anesthesiology know their stories and the origins of our chosen field of study. But what of those who succeeded these legends? What of the men and women who advanced the specialty of anesthesiology from its infancy to the modern medical practice now enjoyed by thousands of physicians? Volume VII of Careers in Anesthesiology , another volume in a series published by the Wood Library (American Society of Anesthesiologists, Park Ridge, Illinois), answers these questions with regard to three anesthesiologists who followed in the footsteps of the founders of modern anesthesiology: Bernard V. Wetchler M.D., Retired Clinical Professor of Anesthesiology, University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois; Jay Jacoby, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio; and Daniel C. Moore, M.D., Retired Professor, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington.
Similar to previous volumes in this series, each section follows the career choices of all three men, and we are allowed to peek behind the curtain as to the “how and why” of decisions made throughout their careers. In these autobiographical memoirs, each man does a very informative job of not only describing the impetus of his career in anesthesiology but also the repercussions of his choices of where to practice and how to practice with regard to subspecialties.
The anecdotes that punctuate major points of their lives are fascinating. Dr. Moore’s interaction with Dr. Paul Wood at the onset of his path to anesthesiology is captivating. Imagine having to convince Dr. Wood of your competence to sit for the American Board of Anesthesiologists (Raleigh, North Carolina) written examination, much less having to take your oral examinations with examiners by the names of Rovenstine, Ruth, and McCuskey. The process must have been harrowing, but to read Dr. Moore’s account, it was nothing more than future colleagues and American Society of Anesthesiologists presidents having a conversation.
The impact the armed forces and armed conflicts had on each of their careers is difficult for us to appreciate at present. Although we may know that these events in many instances spurred advances in anesthesia technique, few realize how interwoven the careers of ex-armed forces anesthesiologists were after entering civilian life. A consistent theme is the impact of armed forces anesthesiologists in accelerating the advancements of anesthesia within academia and private practice. In addition, the personal stories of experiences during the conflicts are captivating. For example, Dr. Jacoby describes his adventures in vivid detail, from coming ashore June 9, 1944, at Normandy (D-day + 3), to having the surgical tents in which they had set up their operating rooms riddled with bullets, to operating on the gangrenous feet of the front-line solders. Of course, he did get to ride into a newly liberated Paris, France, albeit with a bunch of drunken solders carrying loaded rifles.
The advancements each of these men made to the study of anesthesiology cannot be underestimated. The book does a great job of recounting not only these advancements but also the turf battles, the fight for independence and recognition as a distinct medical specialty, and even the scuffles between members of the American Society of Anesthesiologists.
Dr. Jacoby started his career when, in his own words, “anesthetics were administered by family members, nurses, interns, or junior surgeons.” Because of the contributions made by each of these men, those of us who follow do not have to fight for the legitimacy of our chosen field. Rather, we can concentrate on continued advancement in basic and clinical sciences that benefit our patients. All physicians who have chosen anesthesiology as a career should read this book to better appreciate the challenges and battles that have been fought and won for our specialty.