Upon learning how one became a physician before 1900, I realized that many of the medical practitioners had no formal training at universities and colleges. The physicians included in Walter Graeme Eliot’s book were associated with schools like
In Part 4 of this series, I mentioned that during the American Revolution of the nearly 3500 medical practitioners about 400 had medical degrees. The approximately 3100 had become medical practitioners through an apprenticeship. The quotation that I included in Part 4 from William Smith’s book, The History of New York, from First Discovery to the Year MDCCXXXII (1732), complains about the lack of regulation and licensing of doctors. This complaint was repeatedly expressed throughout the 19th century as well.
Prior to 1765, if you wanted to become a doctor, you either went to
To graduate with a bachelor degree in medicine, the student served 2 years under a preceptor and attended one course of lectures for the duration of four months. The lectures were from 7 to 8 hours in length each day and covered material medica, physic, anatomy and chemistry. To graduate with an MD, the student served 3 years under a preceptor and attended 2 courses of lectures for the duration of four months each one year apart. The second course of lectures was a duplicate of the first course.
Admission to American medical schools from 1765 into the 19th century was based on who could afford to pay. Students purchased tickets to the various lectures. At the Medical College of Philadelphia, these were called Matriculation Tickets. There were no tests, no labs and little to no clinical experience as most medical schools were not associated with a teaching hospital let alone a hospital.
By 1850, there were 37 medical schools in the
During the first half of the 19th century, several states attempted to regulate medical practices but by the 1830s the statutes were amended to the point of being ineffectual or abolished entirely. In 1850, only three states had laws concerning the licensing of physicians.
To be continued: Part 6: Regulation of Medical Schools in the
The History of Medicine in the
The Standard Medical Directory of North American 1902.