A legacy of healing: life of a 13th generation physician
Zhang Youchang (1871-1915), a Songjiang native, was born into a family of doctors. His family had been in the medical profession for 13 generations, with secret prescriptions and medicine making.
Zhang was a talented student. When someone suggested that he should take the imperial examination, he replied, "My family has inherited the medical profession, and we take pleasure in treating and curing the sick. Why do I need fame and fortune?"
Following his father's footsteps, Zhang continued to study medicine and immersed himself in the medical books that his family had collected over the generations. He copied down famous prescriptions and medical cases, and became an expert in pulse diagnosis.
After his father passed away, Zhang began to work as a physician on his own. He earned a reputation for himself by curing many patients with just one prescription.
In 1902, a serious epidemic broke out in Songjiang, but Zhang never stopped working to help the sick. He visited his patients in the afternoon and only returned home the next morning after finishing his work. He made house visits for the poor free of charge. He worked tirelessly, which unfortunately led to him developing stomach problems.
Zhang was open to different medical theories and was eager to learn from others. He had frequent discussions with famous Shanghai doctor Yu Fengbin in an effort to merge Chinese and Western medicine to achieve better results.
Zhang left behind many writings on medicine and medical cases, but they were unfortunately lost after wars.