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Becoming a PhysicianMedical Education in Great Britain, France, Germany, and the United States, 1750-1945$
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Thomas Neville Bonner

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780195062984

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195062984.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 October 2021

The Lives of Medical Students and Their Teachers (Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Century)

The Lives of Medical Students and Their Teachers (Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Century)

3 (p.61) The Lives of Medical Students and Their Teachers (Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Century)
Becoming a Physician

Thomas Neville Bonner

Oxford University Press

The lives of students in all periods of history are difficult to recapture. Only scattered correspondence and occasional diaries can normally be found to give us a firsthand look at their experiences. Less satisfactory but still useful are the accounts of teachers, often written long after the events they describe, as well as the memoirs of former students, usually composed with nostalgia toward the close of their careers. Enough evidence does exist, however, to provide at least some glimpses into the student culture of past eras. In this chapter, we trace the social origins of medical students from about 1780 to 1820 and describe something of their lives in and out of the classroom as well as give some account of medical teachers and teaching of the same period. No more uncertain time in the life of a medical student can be imagined than the unsettled years after 1780. Both Europe and America were convulsed by war during much of the period and by fears of the spreading revolution in France. Students everywhere were being pressed into military service; academic enrollments dropped on both continents; and demands for military surgeons had become desperate. Deans and directors of medical schools pleaded with governments to spare their students from army service. In 1799, for example, the director of the French school at Montpellier asked his counterpart in Paris to join him in a last effort to save students from the huge call to arms of that year. Some medical schools were suddenly closed during the years of war; others were reorganized; and everywhere standards fell rapidly. Most of the small number of American schools were forced to shut down during the War for Independence and were then slow to reopen. In Great Britain, the hope of recruiting more medical students needed for war service was dashed by “the reality of low pay, lack of respect and the physical dangers facing most recruits.” In revolutionary France, the medical schools were officially closed early in the Revolution; the title of doctor was disdained by equalitarian reformers; and near chaos prevailed in the hospitals.

Keywords:   Apothecaries, Baltimore, Chemistry, Dissection, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Landshut, Wundarzte

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