To estimate the progress of medicine since the beginning of the nineteenth century, it is necessary to view the conditions of that period. Physicians then were not troubled with obstacles and responsibilities as they are now, as the calling rested on the same basis with all other common enterprises. Practitioners, whether regularly bred or impostors, had liberty to offer their services, and there was little difficulty in justifying their work among the people, who knew much less about medicine than they do now. Quacks with gift of gab and popular manners were sure of success.
There were no specialties then, but naturally, in every community, some practitioner sprang up into notoriety whose genius led him to feats of surgery, by which he gained superior fame. Opportunities of medical education were so restricted that a majority of physicians in rural and village communities were either self-taught or served a term of
DALTON RH. A GLANCE AT THE AMERICAN MEDICAL PROFESSION SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE PRESENT CENTURY.. JAMA. 1893;XXI(26):953-955. doi:10.1001/jama.1893.02420780001001