History of Medicine

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Medicine is the applied science or practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Many important people from many different cultures contributed to the medical field. Without their beliefs we would not be where we are today. Vaccinations, surgeries, and medical studies of different diseases and disorders are just a few of the many advances medicine has made over the years. The first documentation of medicine dates back to the ancient Egyptians in 2600 BC, in which Imhotep wrote texts on ancient Egyptian medicine describing diagnosis and treatment of 200 diseases in 3rd dynasty Egypt.

The most famous of all Greek doctors was Hippocrates. He made such an impression on medical history that his name is still very much associated with medicine today. All newly qualified doctors take what is called the ‘Hippocratic Oath’ and some see Hippocrates as the father of modern medicine even though he did most of his work some 430 years before the birth of Christ. The Ancient Romans, like the Ancient Greeks and Ancient Egyptians, made a huge input into medicine and health, though their input was mainly concerned with public health schemes.

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Though the Roman ‘discoveries’ may not have been in the field of pure medicine, poor hygiene by people was a constant source of disease, so any improvement in public health was to have a major impact on society. Many more contributed over the many years since then and medicine and medical technology have had many advances from the myths and legends of the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. Claudius Galen was a Greek physician who went to Rome and revived the ideas of Hippocrates and other Greek doctors.

He put great emphasis on clinical observation by examining a patient very thoroughly and noting their symptoms. Galen also accepted the view that disease was the result of an imbalance between blood, phlegm, yellow bile and blood bile. Galen also believed in the healing power of nature and he developed treatments to restore the balance of the four humors. Galen believed in the use of opposites – if a man appeared to have a fever, he treated it with something cold; if a man appeared to have a cold, he would be treated with heat.

People who were weak were given hard physical exercises to do to build up their muscles. People who had breathing problems due to a weak chest were given singing exercises. William Harvey made the momentous medical discovery that the flow of blood must be continuous and that its flow must be in one direction only. This discovery sealed his place in the history of medicine. Harvey made one major medical discovery but possibly his lasting legacy in terms of medical practice was his belief in experiments to prove or disprove what you believed in.

His approach was to greatly influence men such as Robert Boyle, Robert Hooke and Richard Lower. Joseph Lister did not discover a new drug but he did make the like between lack of cleanliness in hospitals and deaths after operations. For this reason, he is known as the ‘Father of Antiseptic Surgery’. He believed that it was microbes carried in the air that caused diseases to be spread in wards. People who had been operated on were especially vulnerable as their bodies were weak and their skin had been cut open so that germs could get into the body with more ease.

Ignaz Semmelweis was a Hungarian obstetrician who disproved the belief that post-operations deaths were caused by ‘poison air’ in a hospital ward. The work done by Semmelweis all but removed puerperal fever from the maternity units he worked in. His colleagues and superiors derided his work while he was alive but antiseptic surgery drastically reduced post-operation fatalities. Anton van Leeuwenhoek is commonly known as “the Father of Microbiology”, and considered to be the first microbiologist.

He is best known for his work on the improvement of the microscope and for his contributions towards the establishment of microbiology. Edward Jenner was the pioneer of smallpox vaccine. He is often called “the father of immunology”, and his work is said to have “saved more lives than the work of any other man. Florence Nightingale was a celebrated English social reformer and statistician, and the founder of modern nursing. She came to prominence while serving as a nurse during the Crimean War, where she tended to wounded soldiers.

She was dubbed “The Lady with the Lamp” after her habit of making rounds at night. Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States, as well as the first woman on the UK Medical Register. She was the first openly identified woman to graduate from medical school, a pioneer in promoting the education of women in medicine in the United States, and a social and moral reformer in both the United States and in England. Margaret Sanger was an American birth control activist, sex educator, and nurse.

Sanger popularized the term birth control, opened the first birth control clinic in the United States, and established Planned Parenthood. Sanger’s efforts contributed to the landmark U. S. Supreme Court case which legalized contraception in the United States. Sanger is a frequent target of criticism by opponents of birth control and has also been criticized for supporting eugenics, but remains an iconic figure in the American reproductive rights movement.. Clara Barton was a pioneer American teacher, patent clerk, nurse, and humanitarian.

At a time when relatively few women worked outside the home, Barton built a career helping others. One of her greatest accomplishments was founding the American Red Cross. This organization helps victims of war and disasters. There are many others that contributed to the history of medicine but too many to name in such a short essay. Without the people listed in this essay, the medical profession would not be what it is today. Works Cited http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/History_of_medicine http://www. historylearningsite. co. uk/medical_changes_from1945. htm http://www. history-timelines. org. uk