George J. Cook
1910 to 1911
The present occasion is the thirteenth anniversary of the organization of the first medical society in the world, whose sole object is the "investigation and dissemination of knowledge relating to the rectum, anus and colon." Other associations had been formed for the purpose of devoting their energies to the investigation of diseases of almost every other organ or group of organs in the body. The American Proctologic Society, however, was the first organized for the special object named.
This is an age of specialism, and the wonderful development and advances in arts and sciences is due to specialism- the concentration of the mental energies along one line of thought. A person must be accurately acquainted with the principles of the entire science before he is capable of elucidating or practicing successfully anyone of its parts. In medicine, no physician is qualified to specialize until he has followed the general practice a number of years. This is essential in order to gain an accurate knowledge of the entire science. Our by-laws require that a physician must be a graduate and in general practice for at least five years before he can be admitted to our Society. If this could be changed to read eight years instead of five years, it would undoubtedly mean the admission to our Society of physicians with increased qualifications. The physician who takes up a special line of practice, with only a few years in the general field, is at best a narrow man in medicine. He cannot appreciate the relation of diseases of other organs to those of the part to which he is devoting his attention, and we should discourage the medical student or young practitioner from thinking of taking up any special line of work until he has been in general practice a requisite length of time.