Medicine and Health at the Beginning of the Century.
In the first decade of the twentieth century medical practice in the United States remained much as it had been throughout the nineteenth century—a curious mixture of the effective and what is now known to be the ridiculous. Luckily, the ratio of the former to the latter had been changing toward more effective patient care. General public health was also improving. Urban cleanwater supplies and the disposal of human, animal, and industrial wastes had increasingly come under the control of public health agencies in the preceding century. Sanitation engineering had developed as a specialty to aid these efforts. Vaccinations for some diseases were becoming widespread.
When chemist Charles Eliot became president of Harvard University in 1869, he proposed radical changes in the medical school. Eliot wanted to raise admission standards to weed out the kind of undesirable students that often filled classes and to extend the training period to include more laboratory experience in the curriculum. Faculty members such as famed surgeon Henry Bigelow objected, wondering why a system that worked so well needed changing. Eliot told him, "I can answer Dr. Bigelow's question very easily; there is a new President." Within two years Eliot's changes were being implemented....
(The entire section is 811 words.)
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