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Moments in Surgical History
June 2002

John Wyeth (1845-1922) and the Postgraduate Education and Training of America's Surgeons

Arch Surg. 2002;137(6):748-749. doi:10.1001/archsurg.137.6.748

JOHN WYETH is little remembered, but his contributions to the founding of the New York Polyclinic Hospital and Medical College in 1882 and his influence on the education and training of American surgeons are paramount. He was born in Alabama and received his medical degree from the University of Louisville in 1869. After spending several discouraging months in private practice and realizing that he needed further medical and surgical training, Wyeth left medicine for 3 years to earn enough money to continue his education. Moving to New York City in October 1872, he resumed his professional studies at Bellevue Hospital Medical College, where he received a degree ad eundem in 1873. The following year he was made prosector to the chair of anatomy and, in 1875, instructor for the faculty. Because of a long and debilitating illness, Wyeth resigned from Bellevue College and eventually moved to Europe, where he studied in Berlin, London, Paris, and Vienna. Returning to New York City in 1878, a healthy Wyeth was named visiting surgeon at Mount Sinai Hospital and consulting surgeon at St Elizabeth's Hospital. At the same time, he began to actively promote his plans for a postgraduate school of medicine.

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