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September 1997


Arch Surg. 1997;132(9):1043. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1997.01430330109020

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IRA M. RUTKOW, MD, MPH, DRPH Of the many tragic figures that dot the American surgical landscape, few seem as fetching as John Syng Dorsey (1783-1818). Born in Philadelphia, Pa, he received most of his early education at the Society of Friends' Academy in his native city. Dorsey remained there until he was 15 years of age, when he began the formal study of medicine as a private pupil of his mother's brother, the renowned Philip Syng Physick (1768-1837). In addition to his private tutelage, Dorsey began to attend a full course of medical lectures at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. Such were his initiative and proficiency that 2 years before he had attained the age required by the laws of the university for graduation (ie, 21 years), Dorsey was considered fully qualified to receive his medical degree, which he was awarded in 1802. After assisting his uncle for 1

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