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May 15, 1996

Becoming a Physician: Medical Education in Britain, France, Germany, and the United States

Author Affiliations

University of Wisconsin-Madison

JAMA. 1996;275(19):1521. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530430065044

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Over a century has passed since the plucky German scholar Theodor Puschmann issued his comprehensive history of medical education. During that time historians have published a small library of monographs and articles on various aspects of medical education, but most have focused on a particular country, institution, or educator. Until now, no single author, to my knowledge, has possessed the intellectual bravery and linguistic skills needed to undertake a study spanning centuries and cultures. But in Becoming a Physician, Thomas N. Bonner, a distinguished medical historian and sometime university president, draws on published and archival sources in three languages to provide a sweeping comparative analysis of medical education in France, Britain, the German-speaking areas of Europe, and North America during the two centuries between 1750 and 1945.

In addition to its impressive chronological and geographical range, Becoming a Physician possesses other strengths. In contrast to many historians of medical education