Throughout history, medicine has been a necessity in every American’s life. From the early colonists to the present population today, medical care has proven to be a vital part of our civilizations. However, our medical practices have not always been as advanced as they are now. The development of drugs, and the building of Universities influenced us in ways unimaginable. It took America’s earliest doctors to provide us with scientific knowledge, as well as the education of our nurses to allow America to become the advanced nation it is today.
At the very beginning, our ancestors practiced very odd and later to be proven wrong practices. Many doctors believed that sickness can be prevented by the removal of toxins from the body. One of these doctors was Miles Standish. Miles Standish came over from England aboard the Mayflower in 1620. Standish’s obtained his formal education in the military and like many physicians of the time, picked up medicine in his daily life and by watching other physicians.
Most of the medicine that Standish would be studying would be imbalance in bodily fluids. To cure an illness, it was thought that the ‘bad fluids such as blood or phlegm should be removed to restore your body’s balance.’ ( Around the time of Mayflower, doctors like Standish didn’t have many options, and many people fell victim to disease, and restoring your bodies ballance really wasn’t the best treatment for this time. However, Miles Standish’s contribution to early colonial medical practices allowed us to learn and create more advanced treatments.
Another influential man was Samuel Fuller. Dr. Fuller came into america aboard the Mayflower, and was the main physician for the Plymouth Colony. Around 1630, he was both a surgeon and a physician. Back then, this was very uncommon. Around this time most doctors were not surgeons and most surgeons were not doctors. ( In fact, it was hard to tell a surgeon from a barber or at times a barber from a physician. They all practiced some form of medicine. Samuel Fuller was such a good physician, that he was also known to practice in Salem, and Massachusetts Bay. He later passed away due to the first smallpox epidemic. With this information, one can infer how beneficial Samuel Fuller was to the medical world. He was brilliant in his field and help hundred patients during the span of his career.
Lastly, William Beaumont was another great American Surgeon. From 1812 until 1815, Beaumont served as an assistant surgeon in the Army during the War of 1812. ( After the war ended, he started a private practice in Plattsburgh, New York, and by 1820 Beaumont had rejoined the Army as a surgeon. During one of his travels, another soldier had been shot in the stomach. He treated the soldier for his wounds, and expected him to then parish. However, he did not. This gave Beaumont an amazing opportunity to study the human gastrointestinal tract. He later performed experiments to analyze the digestion process, and made the profound discovery that stomach acid was a chemical process, not a mechanical one. From William Beaumont’s studies come a great knowledge of a rather unknown topic. This helps scientist after Beaumont to obtain knowledge about the human stomach.
Another breakthrough in medicine during the next era of the late 1700s to the early 1800s was the introduction of medications such as vaccines, pain relievers and anestesias. One important man that contributed to these medical interventions was Edward Jenner. Jenner is well known around the world for his innovative contribution to immunization and the ultimate eradication of smallpox. In doing this, he created the first vaccine. Smallpox was a deadly disease that was brought to Europe around the 16th to the 17th centuries. This deadly disease killed thousands of people each year. However, it was discovered that farmers who tended cows, were resistant to the smallpox disease. This is because most farmers would catch something called cowpox disease. When the farmers has recovered, they returned to their livestock, and never caught the deadly smallpox disease. To Jenner, this showed that there was a direct correlation between these two diseases. He set up a scientific study where he implanted cowpox in a young child. The child grew sick, but eventually recovered. Jenner then implanted smallpox in the child. This caused the child to become very sick, however, in a few weeks overcame the sickness. ( This is something know one has ever accomplished before. With discovering this evidence, Edward Jenner was able to create the first vaccine that would save millions of peoples lives and eventually eradicate the disease for years to come.
Another important type of medicine that was used in the Era of the 1800s was opium. Opium has a different representation in early America than it does now. It was not misused like it is today, rather it was used as a pain reliever and known to suppress pains during many grueling surgical procedures as well as treat common pain. In 1809 a woman by the name of Jane Tod was complaining of ovarian pains. She went to the doctor and he prescribed her opium. She took the medication and returned home well. ( This is one record we have of opium being prescribed and working successfully. This drug paved the way for new formations of medications, and helped doctors relieve their patients pain.
Lastly, during this era was the first successful surgery performed with the use of anesthesia. Anaesthesia is a state of controlled, temporary loss of sensation or awareness that is induced for medical purposes. Back then, surgerys were rough and very painful. With the use of this invention, doctors were able to perform with little pain to the patient. The first man to do this was John Collins Warren. In 1836 he created history. ( Although there were still problems to work out, the invention of this drug helped millions in the future. As time goes on, scientist and physicians have made breakthroughs with anesthesia, and it all started when Dr. Warren preformed a monumental surgery.
The era of the mid to late 1800s, was birth of yet another important medical intervention. It was the building of medical schools and hospitals. Also from these stems another intervention which is the employment of nurses. When it comes to being a nurse, you have to be compassionate and also very diligent. Nurses played a monumental part in the development of early American medicine because they are the ones that spend the most time with the patients. When the doctor diagnoses the patient, the nurse then tends to the doctors wishes and treats the patient accordingly. This may seem like a small job but it is in fact very important. Nurses check on and care for patients, in a way doctors do not have time for. One important nurse was Linda Richard. Nurse Richard was actually the first trained nurse. She graduated from the New England Hospital for Women and Children Training School for Nursing 1873. She studied abroad, as well as taught generations of future nurses. From 1899 to 1909, she turned her attention to training psychiatric nurses, and later retired in 1911. ( Linda Richard accomplishes many things, helping hundred along the way. She has forever remained an icon for nurses to this day.
Another intervention during the late 1800s was the founding of the Bellevue Hospital. It was America’s first public hospital, as well as it housed New York City’s first morgue. Another important fact that made this such an amazing intervention was it would later house another popular grabbing school for nurses founded by Florence Nightingale. Although women physicians in New York, had already established formal training schools for nurses in the 1860s, the New York Training center for nurses at the Bellevue Hospital was the first nurse training school to claim their organization based on the principles specified by Florence Nightingale. ( Florence Nightingale was an amazing nurse and was known for her work around the world. She has created nursing schools all around Europe and the United states, and it was said that the were the most prestigious and were held at the highest honor. With the opportunity to attend a school such as hers, it influential to our county. It allows americans to obtain the highest knowledge of nursing and perform to the best of their abilities to help the people in need.
Lastly, an intervention from the late 1800s was the Columbia University School of Nursing, founded in 1892 by Anna C. Maxwell serving as its first director. Maxwell set the standard for nursing education and service for decades. It was Maxwell’s unwavering belief in the power of nursing that opened new horizons for the profession and paved the way for today’s nurses.( Columbia University was the first school to provide a masters program, and help teach women and men to tend to the sick. This is very important because less people were becoming doctors. Unlike before where everyone could be a physician, during this time, you were required to attend college and obtain a more thorough education. Thus, the need for nurses became a demand. With a university like the Columbia, made it easier for people to attend school and become a nurse.
These famous physicians, scientists and nurses were incredibly influential to the America we know today. Their studies as well as achievements allowed us to gain more knowledge about our bodies, and how to treat them. They also helped us create systems such as hospitals or nursing schools that help treat and teach. These things impacted the people of their time period, allowing early America to grow into the Country we have today.
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