|Wilhelm Baum. Photograph of painting by Wilhelm Title. Uploaded by Mehlauge. Via Wikimedia.|
Postgraduate medical education in the nineteenth century required personal contact with the masters of the profession – working and rounding with them, or at least listening to their lectures. Thus the German surgeon Wilhelm Baum spent one year after obtaining his doctorate (1822) as a surgical assistant to von Graefe in Berlin. He then studied at the great medical centers in Austria, Italy, and the British Isles, and in particular in Paris, where he attended lectures and clinics by Dupuytren, Larrey, and Cruveilhier. When he himself became a professor of surgery, he greatly influenced a younger generation of surgeons, in particular Theodor Billroth.
He practiced surgery in Berlin and became chief surgeon in Gdansk (Danzig in his time), where he distinguished himself during the cholera epidemic of 1831. He later became professor of surgery in Greifswald (where he initiated studies in medical mycology and described human pulmonary aspergillosis) and eventually in Göttingen. He was one of the earliest surgeons to perform tracheotomies for croup and studied lithotripsy, but he is remembered mainly as a teacher of surgeons.
GEORGE DUNEA, MD, Editor-in-Chief