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December 10, 1932


JAMA. 1932;99(24):2051. doi:10.1001/jama.1932.02740760061031

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To the Editor:  —In looking up some Revolutionary data with reference to Dr. Benjamin Church, first surgeon general of the American army, I came on the following references to the first public or official examinations held in America of candidates for the practice of medicine. At the beginning of the War of the Revolution, few among the practitioners of medicine were graduates of medical schools. The usual preparation for practice was a resident apprenticeship under a practitioner of the art, from two to five years being the standard period. The fortunate student worked under a preceptor who gave him not only practical experience but also access to the standard works on medicine, which were not readily available at that period. From the manuscript diary of John Denison Hartshorn (Boston Medical Library), it is evident that the books sold in the apothecary shop of his preceptor (Dr. Sylvester Gardiner), who supplied