Post by copyright Doris McCraw
Becoming a Doctor
It's the 1800s and you decide that being a doctor is the career path for you. So how do you go about it. In the nineteenth century there were a couple of ways to get your MD. You could pay another doctor to 'read' medicine or go to medical school. If you were a women, medical school might not be an option in the early part of the century, although studying with a doctor could still be an option, if you found one who would accept you.
That changed in 1849 when Elizabeth Blackwell graduated from Geneva Medical College in New York state. Additional information on this pioneer reformer can be found at: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/changingthefaceofmedicine/physicians/biography_35.html.
Of course there is Harriot Kezia Hunt who has had a practice in Boston since 1835, but not with a college MD. She applied to Harvard in 1847, same year that Blackwell applied to Geneva. For more: http://hms.harvard.edu/departments/joint-committee-status-women/resources/interesting-reports/matriculation-women-harvard-medical-school/1847-1870
On a side note, there is some evidence that Great Britain had a female doctor as early as 1812, but she dressed as a man all her adult life. If you wish to know more about Margaret Ann Bulkley here is the link to a newspaper article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-527128/Unmasked-Britains-female-doctor-pretended-man-46-years.html
In the United States medical schools are two, three or four year options. These schools do not requite a college education before being accepted. So, if you could get accepted you would get your MD within two years or so. The college of your choice might teach one of two forms of medicine, Allopathic or Homeopathic. Osteopathy arrived during the latter part of the 1800s.
|University of Iowa College of Medicine Historical Photographs College of Physicians and Surgeons, State University, Keokuk, Iowa, 1860|
Some schools catered only to women students, but there are a few that are coed. One option might be the Cleveland Womens Medical College for women only or the Keokuk School for Physicians and Surgeons which is coed.
Now that you've decided which school to attend, what are you going to study? Here are the courses of instruction at the College of Homeopathic Medicine and Surgery at the University of Minnesota in 1894.
FIRST YEAR. Embryology, Anatomy, Chemistry, Histology, Physiology, Materia medica, Laboratory work, History and methodology of medicine
SECOND YEAR. Bacteriology, Medical jurisprudence, Theory and practice, Clinical medicine, Obstetrics, Diseases of children, Physical diagnosis, Hygiene, Surgery, Clinical surgery, Clinical instruction, Materia medica.
THIRD YEAR. Gynecology, Pathology, Neurology, Opthalmology, Dermatology, Laryngology, Clinical instruction in all branches, Electro-therapy, Otology, Genito-urinary, Orthpsedia, Surgical anatomy.
So how are your chances. In 1870 the census states that 525 women are trained as doctors. For more on this: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1447078/.
As you can see, your options have increased greatly since 1849, so how about it? Do you want to be a doctor?
For more information about the women doctors, especially in Colorado, here are links to other posts on the subject.
Finally, on June 11, 2016 the Pikes Peak Library District is having their Annual History Symposium.
You can stream it live at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ppld-history
A preview video can be seen here: https://vimeo.com/158245121
Angela Raines is the pen name for Doris McCraw. Doris also writes haiku posted five days a week at – http://fivesevenfivepage.blogspot.com and has now passed one thousand haiku and photos posted on this blog. Check out her other work or like her Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/1I0YoeL
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