Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Part 3: MD with an LLD Degree or Is It LLD with an MD Degree?

In my last blog entry, I indicated that I would look at physicians in private practice and not employed by a medical school to see if some percentage of these physicians had also obtained an LLD. That task is proving to be more time consuming than I had hoped.

However, while I was exploring the answer to this question, I did come across some interesting facts.

As I constructed the spreadsheet from the information in Walter Eliot's book, "Portraits of the Noted Physicians of New York 1750-1900" and filling in the information missing in the book about these 199 physicians from other sources, I noted an interesting fact. Several of the earliest practicing physicians had gone to Europe to study. In particular, these men traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland to study medicine either after earning an MD degree or after serving an apprenticeship under a practicing physician.

So what was happening in medicine in the colonies in 1750? Well, for one thing there were no medical schools. The first medical school established in the North American British colonies was in Pennsylvania in 1765 followed by medical schools in New York and Maryland. With the addition of a medical curriculum at Harvard in 1782, there were only 4 medical colleges in the United States by 1800. Clearly, the American Revolution had an impact on the establishment of medical colleges.

So it is not surprising to me that the men in Walter Eliot's book who were practicing medicine the earliest had gone to Scotland for training. As times progressed, some of the men in the book went to London, Paris and Vienna for medical training beyond the training that they received in the United States.

I am a descendant of the "first physician" in New Amsterdam. As I looked for documentation that supported this claim, I found Hans Kierstede referred as a chirurgeon. As it turns out this translates to a surgeon, but not as we think of a surgeon today. Back then, there were three occupations that provided medical care. These were the physician, surgeon and apothecary. The surgeon was associated with the military and whose function was to amputate limbs. The apothecary mixed items to create medicines.

To be continued...

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