Irish storyteller, physician presents inaugural Noback-Burton Lecture

Patrick Taylor_Noback-Burton_Lecture
Physician and author Patrick Taylor, M.D., presented the inaugural Noback-Burton Lecture at the School of Medicine on April 28.

Physician and author Patrick Taylor, M.D., discussed his career in medicine and as a writer during the School of Medicine’s first Noback-Burton Lecture on April 28.

The new lectureship was endowed by James Riscoe, M.D. ’75, a member of the school’s third graduating class. Riscoe said he started the event to honor Richardson K. Noback, M.D., the first dean of the School of Medicine, and Jerry Burton, M.D. ’73, a classmate who is recognized as the first graduate of the medical school.

Riscoe said he chose Taylor as the inaugural speaker because the author is his favorite writer after Mark Twain.

“I don’t care if it is art, or poetry, or architecture, or exploring the Amazon,” Riscoe said. “I want this lectureship to be about what doctors do outside of medicine. I think (Taylor) is a living example of what you can do.”

Taylor joked with the audience of faculty, staff and students. “I have had a checked career,” he said, “which means I can’t hold a job for very long.”

In reality, Taylor earned his medical degree in Belfast and practiced in rural Northern Ireland before specializing in obstetrics and gynecology. In 1970, he and his family immigrated to Canada where he pursued a teaching and research career in human infertility. He has received three lifetime achievement awards for his work, including the Lifetime Award of Excellence from the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society.

Taylor has written six textbooks and 170 scientific papers, and was editor-in-chief of the Canadian Obstetrics and Gynecology journal for 10 years.

He began writing monthly medical humor columns in 1991 and became a book reviewer for Stitches: The Journal of Medical Humor. His series of Irish Country novels revolve around Fingal O’Reilly, an Irish country doctor practicing in Ballybucklebo, a fictitious Northern Ireland locale. The 11th book in the series is due for release in October. He has also written fiction novels about the Irish Republican Army during the late 20th Century Northern Ireland conflict, known as The Troubles.

Taylor read snippets of his writings and talked about medicine in the 1930s, when his character, O’Reilly, practiced. He said that more than the science of medicine, doctors at the time practiced the art of medicine with a personal touch. Taylor said if he had a message for medical students today, it would be to have fun.

“I hope your faculty of humanities will help you have a personal touch,” he said.