Our History

The Association of Physicians was founded in 1907 at the instigation of Sir William Osler. Notes on the founding of the Association by Dr Herringham, extracted from the first Minute Book, are reproduced below.

A wish had often been expressed that some magazine could be started in this country, on the lines of one or two foreign magazines, in which papers could be published, which, though scientifically important, were not suitable for the journals, or for the Clinical or Pathological Societies.

In May, 1906 Professor Osler came to London and met at my house, Garrod, Hale-White, Rose Bradford, Rolleston and Hutchison. He agreed to help in starting such a magazine and suggested the Clarendon Press as publishers. He also suggested the formation of a National Association of Physicians, somewhat on the lines of the Association of American Physicians, which should both be a pleasant gathering and also should form the nucleus of a public for the magazine. The suggestion was warmly received, and it remained to see how best to carry it out.

We, the above gang, first approached the Regius Professors of Medicine, and the President of the Royal College of Physicians.

They agreed to write to other Professors of Medicine throughout the Country. (All the Professors agreed to sign a letter of invitation to ordinary membership). In the meanwhile meetings had been held in Edinburgh, through the efforts of Dr Gibson, and in Dublin, under Professor Little, which showed a willing reception of the idea in those cities. This letter was sent, together with a draft scheme of the proposed Association, which is embodied in the Rules, in the first instance to all the acting members of the Medical Staff of Hospitals connected with recognised Medical Schools.

The intention of the Association was that no inactive members should be allowed, that the younger men, in especial, should be brought into its ranks and that its members should be limited so that it might be considered an honour to belong to it.

It had always been the intention to include all men actively engaged in research, whether attached to Teaching Hospitals or not. Accordingly, in the Spring of 1907 this invitation was sent out to a large number of other Physicians, some engaged in general practice, others as Consultants not attached to recognised Schools.

These invitations were again largely accepted and by the day fixed for the General Meeting in London the total number of the Association, which had been fixed for 250, was almost reached.

Since these early days the Association of Physicians of Great Britain and Ireland has prospered. With the exception of small gaps during the First and Second World Wars, the Association has met annually at venues throughout Great Britain and Ireland.

These meetings have continued to promote the aims of the Association to “advance internal medicine” in a manner that “promotes friendship amongst Physicians”. The meetings of the Association have always been characterised by presentations of the highest quality, and represent many of the best achievements of academic medicine throughout Britain and Ireland.

This continues to be the case. As the Association moves into the 21st Century it remains a key focus for the promotion of clinical academic excellence.