Improve, Perfect, & Perpetuate: Dr. Nathan Smith and Early American Medical Education

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9780874518603: Improve, Perfect, & Perpetuate: Dr. Nathan Smith and Early American Medical Education

This is the first full-scale biography of Nathan Smith -- medical pioneer, founder of Dartmouth Medical School and cofounder of three other medical schools (Yale, Vermont, and Bowdoin), and progenitor of a long line of physicians. Smith was a central figure in early American medical education, from 1787 when he began practicing in New Hampshire, to his death in New Haven in 1829. In his day, Smith was probably the nation's leading physician, surgeon, and medical educator, and well ahead of his time in insisting that doctors practice "watchful waiting" and emphasizing patient-centered care. In the process of telling Smith's life and story, authors Hayward and Putnam fill out in new ways the picture of medical treatment and medical education in post-Colonial America.

The tale of Smith's remarkable career unfolds in New England, where the authors create a sense of time and place through an exhaustive study of primary and secondary sources, and especially Smith's own letters and lecture notes taken by his students. Readers become immersed in Smith's life and the spirit of the times as they examine early Victorian notions of disease, how medical students were taught (the chapter on body snatching is especially lively), the politics and economics of founding professional medical schools in early America, and other topics. The book provides a vivid description of what it was like to study and practice medicine, and be the recipient of the ministrations of physicians, during this critical period.

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From the Publisher:

6 x 9 trim. 30 illus. 2 figs. Map. LC 97-47155

About the Author:

The late Oliver S. Hayward, M.D. graduated from Dartmouth and Harvard medical schools, interned at Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital, and practiced medicine for most of his life. He compiled his years of research on Smith into a rough draft, which has been fashioned into the present book by Constance E. Putnam, a writer who specializes in the fields of history of medicine and medical ethics.

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