Posted by: getthenac | March 29, 2010

Remembering Dr. Riley

From Wayne Wood:

Dr. Harris D. Riley Jr. died a few days ago. He was a very nice man, pediatrician who cared for countless children in his career,  and a great supporter of Vanderbilt University.

But it should not go uncommented upon that he was also the author of a study called “Health Manpower II: Physician Time Expended in Shaving,” which was published in the July, 1989 issue of the Southern Medical Journal, and which he thoughtfully sent me a copy shortly after its publication. The study, complete with a chart, was exactly what its title suggested. He studied his own shaving habits over 1,196 days—three years, three months, and eight days, as the study helpfully notes. His average shave during the period studied took 6.41 minutes, which, in his extrapolation, meant that he had spent more than 5 days—well, 5.04 days, to be precise—shaving. He discovered that a new blade sped up the process. He discovered that it took longer to shave on Tuesdays, on average, than on Saturdays.”The reason for these differences was not clear,” he noted.

This study was a follow-up to an earlier tonsorially-oriented piece Dr. Riley had published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 1970, titled “Health Manpower: Physician Time Expended in Obtaining Haircuts.”

Dr. Riley was a beloved physician, a kind man, a Southern gentleman in his manner, and, clearly, a person of broad interests and meticulous observation. I’m happy to have known him.

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