Journal of Medical Humanities

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 25–34 | Cite as

The physician and social renewal: Julius B. Richmond as role model

  • Charles J. Bussey
  • Donna Bussey


We live in an age of “high tech” medicine which affects both health care recipients and physicians who are taught its many wonders and uses. It is easy in this atmosphere of specialization for clinicians, professors and medical students to become isolated and to ignore social issues which affect health care in its broadest sense.

Individuals who are committed to the “common good” are the ones historically who have been effective change agents. It would be tragic simply to stand back and allow the cynical and greedy to dominate any profession which deals with the poor, the uninsured and the homeless.

It is imperative for physicians to take a broad view of today's problems in health care delivery systems, for they can have an enormous impact on the kind of world our children will inherit. It is essential for physicians to become involved in social concerns, and in improving health care delivery, at all levels in their practice.

Given their power and prestige, it is crucial for physicians and aspiring physicians to have positive role models. Dr. Julius B. Richmond provides an admirable example of a physician who cares about his profession, his patients and his nation. Through his research, his public service and his teaching, Dr. Richmond has demonstrated the difference a single individual can make in improving the quality of life for all Americans.


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Reference notes

  1. 1.
    John W. Gardner,Self-Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society (New York, 1963), xv.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Dr. William Bevan, Chicago, Illinois, to author, June 11, 1987.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Dr. Carl J. Marienfeld to Julius B. Richmond, JBR Archives (National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD).Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Interview with Julius B. Richmond, July 17, 1987, Boston, MA. Interview, JBR by Michael L. Gillette, October 5, 1981, JBR Archives (NLM, Bethesda, MA).Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Interview with Richmond, July 18, 1987, Boston, MA.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    Interview with JBR, April 12, 1987, Boston, MA.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Telephone interview with Dr. Herb Abrams, September 28, 1987; interview with Dr. Marc and Betty Hollender, April 15, 1988, Nashville, TN. While latter day reminiscences are often suspect, the Abrams and Hollender statements are consistent with evidence found in Richmond's Archives at NLM.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    Interview with JBR, July 17, 1987. Although an internship or residency at Cook County might not be “coveted” today, it certainly was in the late 1930s and early 1940s. In order to secure a position there, students had to take very competitive examinations.Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    Julius B. Richmond's Presidential Address to the American Orthopsychiatric Association in 1974, “The State of the Child: Is the Glass Half-Empty or Half-Full?”, copy in author's possession.Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    Interview with Dr. Morris Green, November 4, 1987, Indianapolis, IN. I am indebted to Dr. Green for the several hours he spent with me. One of Richmond's students in the late 1940s—“Morris is almost as brilliant as Julie,” Bettye Caldwell said.—Green went on to a distinguished career and co-authored a pediatric text with his mentor.Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    Telephone interview with Dr. Patricia Spain-Ward, August 9, 1988. Copy of JBR's committee's proposal to reform the curriculum, in the author's possession.Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    Dr. Leon Eisenberg to Dr. Audrey K. Brown, June 30, 1988, copy in author's possession.Google Scholar
  13. 14.
    Interview with Polly Greenberg, June 22, 1988, Washington, D.C.; interview with Dr. Thomas Bryant, June 29, 1988, Washington, D.C.; interview with Dr. Bettye Caldwell, June 29, 1987, Little Rock, Arkansas.Google Scholar
  14. 15.
    Telephone interview with Dr. David Hamburg, July 12, 1988. This is another example of Richmond's ability to juggle multiple responsibilities.Google Scholar
  15. 16.
    Julius B. Richmond, “Health Services Through OEO,” paper delivered to the American Medical Association in Chicago, Illinois, 1966. Copy in JBR Archives. To stress his point, Richmond said: “Programs that deny the poor active roles in providing solutions to their own problems can only serve to reinforce their sense of isolation and... undermine the value of the program.”Google Scholar
  16. 17.
    Julius B. Richmond, “The Physician As a Social Activist,” paper delivered to a Conference of Peace Corps Physicians, September 1970, copy in author's possession.Google Scholar
  17. 18.
    Interview with Dr. Leon Eisenberg, July 17, 1987, Boston, MA; interview with Hamburg.Google Scholar
  18. 19.
    Interview with Joseph Califano, July 27, 1987, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  19. 20.
    Interview with Dr. William Foege, January 26, 1987, Atlanta, Georgia; interview with Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, January 27, 1987, Atlanta, Georgia.Google Scholar
  20. 21.
    Julius B. Richmond, “A Healthy Start in Life,” BostonGlobe, July 1, 1985; interview with Hamburg; interview with JBR.Google Scholar
  21. 22.
    Eisenberg to Brown. For specifics, see the series of articles Richmond did (in collaboration) called “Autonomic Function in the Neonate,” I, II, III, IV, V, and VI forPsychosomatic Medicine in 1955, 1960, 1961, and 1964. It would be unrealistic for me to list Richmond's cutting-edge” articles, for his CV up to 1981 runs to 29 pages.Google Scholar
  22. 23.
    Interview with Hamburg; interview with Hollender.Google Scholar
  23. 24.
    Interview with Hamburg.Google Scholar
  24. 25.
    Interview with Eisenberg.Google Scholar
  25. 26.
    Interview with Eisenberg, Caldwell, Green, Foege, Califano, Abrams, Hollender.Google Scholar
  26. 27.
    Interview with Lisbeth Schorr, August 1, 1987, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  27. 28.
    Interview with Bryant.Google Scholar
  28. 29.
    Interview with JBR, July 18, 1987. Richmond also said the same thing in a handwritten acceptance note to the Board when he became Acting President of the Upstate Medical Center, Syracuse, New York, in the summer of 1968. Copy in Author's possession.Google Scholar
  29. 30.
    Interview with Caldwell.Google Scholar
  30. 31.
    Interview with Hamburg. Several others, including Dr. William Foege and Dr. Thomas Bryant stressed Richmond's willingness to take certain risks.Google Scholar
  31. 32.
    Interview with Hamburg. Richmond agreed. “I never liked to get myself so far out on a limb,” he said in an interview on July 18, 1987, “that it could be sawed off.”Google Scholar
  32. 33.
    Julius B. Richmond, “Investing in Children.” (Meyer A. Perlstein Memorial Lecture, 1978 United Cerebral Palsy Annual Conference), in JBR Archives.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles J. Bussey
    • 1
  • Donna Bussey
  1. 1.History Dept.Western Kentucky UniversityBowling Green

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