I noted the letter in the Summer 2004 issue of Yale Medicine about Max Taffel. I was a resident in surgery at Yale from 1960 through 1966, and during that period had an occasion to visit Max Taffel at his home one evening along with several of my resident colleagues. Although he rarely discussed his past, we did hear a bit of his World War II experiences while at One Tree Hill in New Zealand performing surgery for injured soldiers from the South Pacific campaigns. Most of the evening’s discussion was about various surgical subjects.
At one point I walked past a small room that contained a desk, books, lots of papers strewn here and there and a few framed things on its walls. One of the framed objects was a certificate from the American Board of Surgery. Looking closer, I saw that it was certificate No. 1! I asked Dr. Taffel about this and he told us that four young surgeons journeyed to Philadelphia in 1937 to take the very first American Board of Surgery examination.
Dr. Taffel was awarded the first certificate. After completing the two-year chief residency in 1966, I was certified by the American Board of Surgery in 1967 and was awarded certificate No. 14899 (a less auspicious number than Dr. Taffel’s, but I was pleased!). I feel certain that none of us would have heard about this from Dr. Taffel had I not stumbled on the certificate. I knew him to be a humble man, a dedicated teacher and a meticulous surgeon, and it seems fitting that he was the first to pass the American Board of Surgery examination.
A. Griswold Bevin, M.D. ’60, HS ’66
Chapel Hill, N.C.