The Section of Surgery was one of the original sections of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland, founded in 1882. The Section of Surgery replaced the Dublin Society of Surgeons. The Section of Surgery is governed by a council and President. The section holds a series of monthly meetings from October to May where members present surgical cases.
Here is the opening address from the first meeting of the Surgical Section held on Friday, 8th December 1882:
President – John Kellock Barton, M.D., President R.C.S.I
Sectional Secretary -William Stokes, F.R.C.S.I.
The President, in opening the proceedings, remarked that the old Surgical Society of Ireland, which, for over fifty years, held its Sessions in that College, had voluntarily laid aside its separate individual existence in order to be foremost in supporting the newAcademy as its Surgical Section. While the name of the Society was changed, it would, in all important and useful respects, remain the same as before, the organisation of which it formed part giving completeness to its work. In effecting the transformation little change had been made, the Council of the Society being the Council of the Section. A happy selection had been made as Secretary in the person of a gentleman whose interest in the Surgical Society was proved by his many contributions to it. For himself, he was President in virtue of his office as President of the College. Reviewing the history of the Surgical Society on the occasion of the new departure was suggestive of a funeral oration rather than a triumphant wedding song, which was more appropriate to its union with the Medical, Pathological, and Surgical Societies; and, therefore, in his Inaugural Address he preferred to institute a comparison between the system of clinical surgery pursued here, and that which obtained in Paris, Berlin, and Vienna. Dublin stood second to no other city in the thoroughness with which the students were trained in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. At the same time, little was done to clear up those disputed surgical problems which could be solved only by the powerful logic of accurate statistics.
The conditions of the Dublin hospital system favoured completeness of individual work and good clinical teaching, while the results which might be .gained from the variety, value, and number of all the cases put together were, for want of unity, lost. This want could be overcome by the new Academy. In Paris the classes went round with the surgeons as in Dublin, and, in addition, the interns there, corresponding to the residents here, took private classes with permission to examine cases of which there were a great many, to illustrate each subject. In Berlin special clinical teaching could be had in almost any branch of surgery, and, therefore, favoured advance in special directions, though it might well be doubted if the system of specialities produced the best-informed practical surgeon, and gave to the State and the Army men able to use skilfully all the resources of their art. In Vienna the same system was carried to a very high degree of perfection. The advantages of the continental system with their vast hospitals were obvious in stimulating original investigation and facilitating the collection of reliable statistics, and so arriving at sound conclusions as to the result of different modes of treatment or operation.
In Dublin there were in proportion to the population quite as many beds available for clinical instruction as in Paris, Berlin, or Vienna. There were fifteen hospitals in Dublin, the average number of beds in each being 130, or nearly 2,000 beds, of which 900 were available for surgical cases and available for clinical instruction, but divided among eleven different hospitals with an average of 87 beds each, and these divided amongst not less than three surgeons, leaving each an average of from 20 to 30 beds. This resulted in thorough and practical instruction; but the experience of each surgeon was limited without co-operation, and thus the Dublin School of Surgery was prevented taking its place in the van of progress. By the new Academy this defect could be met. Here, as in a common centre, might be lodged the records of the cases in all the hospitals, each case under its proper heading, and thus would be formed a most valuable collection of reliable statistics. He hoped the Council would adopt his view, and invite contributions.