The Grand Rapids Academy of Medicine

(Article from the Evening Press – February 7, 1901)


Local Physicians Prepare for a Busy and Profitable Season

The Grand Rapids Academy of Medicine has reorganized and mapped out a plan of work for the year ahead. At a meeting attended by about half a hundred physicians the following were elected officers: President, Dr. Hugo Lupinski; Vice President, Dr. Henry Hulst; Secretary, Dr. John R. Rogers; Treasurer, Dr. Earle Bigham.

The meeting was held in the academy quarters in the New Aldrich block but it is the last in those rooms since it was voted to give up the place and hereafter use the Ladies’ Literary Club parlors on Sheldon street. Meetings will be held once in two weeks and regular programs are provided for in some of which the latest topics of interest to the medical fraternity will be taken up an ably discussed.

It has been decided to give the annual banquet of the academy two weeks from now, probably at the Morton, where it has heretofore been held. A committee will shortly be appointed by the president to take charge of the arrangements for this affair.


(Article from the Evening Press, January 30, 1903)


Old Academy of Medicine Has Lost Its Place


Only Organization Recognized by the State Body

Life is full of surprises and the whirl of Fortune’s wheel has often brought those who were apparently at the lowest point suddenly to the top, and, as it were, raised the would-be passenger who but a moment before was humbly asking for a ride, up into the driver’s seat and left the former engineer of the whole outfit standing in the road mutely wondering what has happened, while the new driver starts off with an evident intention of maintaining the advantage thus suddenly secured.

Just such a metamorphosis has taken place in Grand Rapids and the erstwhile leaders have just awakened to a realization of their position. But to abandon metaphor and come down to facts, it is among the doctors that this sudden shifting of position has taken place, and it all comes about through the organization of the new Kent County Medical association which is affiliated with the reorganized state association and through that with the American Medical association.

For many years the Grand Rapids Academy of Medicine has been the leading and responsible organization of the medical fraternity, and years ago it acquired a reputation for being a high-toned and very learned body, embracing in its membership those who in their profession had attained a high rank and attracting through its very conservatism the members of the profession who desired to join its ranks not only for the advantage of counsel, but for the standing which such membership was certain to give to the young doctor just starting on his career. With age and respectability the Academy kept drawing the lines closer and many who sought membership were denied the privilege, and as the Academy was the body recognized by the state association, those outside its ranks could not take the part they desired in the deliberations and the formulating of ethical edicts. There was occasionally some outspoken criticism of the course of those in charge of the destinies of the organization, but secure in their position, such attacks were treated with dignified contempt and the good old methods which excluded any doctor who seemed determined to seek publicity along lines which that great shibboleth of the profession, "ethics", as construed by the conservatives, called a breach of professional dignity.

New Plan of Organization

But the world moves, and though all doctors still start prescriptions by making a capital R with a line drawn through its tail, the old character which interpreted means, "O Jupiter, aid us", the spirit of reform and desire that the profession should have an associations built along proper lines and reaching to every part of the broad land, took hold of the American association, and it was decided to have state organizations recognized by the national, and in their turn to have associations formed in each county which should be the basis for representation and membership in the state associations.

In the furtherance of this plan the Michigan Medical association was reorganized and the fundamental law laid down that each county should form an association which should be recognized by the state body as the only legitimate organization, and the members the only ones to be entitled to membership in the state association. The work was promptly done in many counties by the old medical societies at once reorganizing as county associations and thus making good their standing with the higher bodies.

How Old Academy Was Left

Just here is where the Old Grand Rapids Academy of Medicine seems to have been taken unawares, or else has fallen victim to undue confidence. Its membership, embracing as it does many of the men who stand in the front ranks of their profession not only in this city and county, but ranking with any in the state, may, have thought their organization could not be ignored, and imagined that it had only to knock at the door of the state association and at once be acknowledged as holding its position as the medical society of Kent county and the arbiter of the fate of the rising generation of physicians. They failed to diagnose the condition properly and seem now to have a corpse upon their hands.

As soon as the plan set forth in the action of the State Medical society was grasped, there was a movement started here looking to the formation of a Kent County Medical Society and all doctors of repute were invited to attend a meeting for organization. There was no secrecy about the call for the meeting and those whose position entitled them to join have only themselves to thank that they are now occupying a position outside the pale. The younger men who had not become affiliated with the old academy, or who had been unable to obtain entrance to the conservative ranks, promptly joined the new organization, and it was successfully launched and has become the recognized medical society of Kent county and the only one under its new constitution the state society can receive into membership.

Waked Up At Last

Of late those who did not join the movement, have waked up and find themselves in the unenviable position of either having to ask for admission to the new body or be left outside the state and national organizations. By the wheel of fate their applications for membership must be passed upon by a body of men included in whose membership are some who have been coldly turned down when seeking admission to the old academy. Verily the pill would seem to be about as bitter as any bolus ever compounded by any old school doctor, and there are those who will always enjoy seeing a doctor take a bitter dose.

So far the new association has shown no spirit of bravado, and doubtless all reputable physicians will be admitted, that the great professional organization of the country may be made strong, but "the fly in the ointment" will be the fact that will be borne in upon the once dominant academicians that they must pocket their pride and ask.

Transcriber: ES
Created: 21 November 2006