Technology and Society: The Influence of Machines in the United States

By S. Mckee Rosen ; Laura Rosen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVI
TECHNOLOGY AND HUMAN WELFARE: A CASE
STUDY OF THE DOCTOR AND THE HOSPITAL

Machines in Medicine

Concentration of great numbers of the populace and ease of mobility bring all sorts of benefit; they also bring danger. The American today profits through advantages inherent in a cosmopolitan existence. He enjoys cultural stimulation, material comforts, close proximity to friends and acquaintances. On the other hand, he must forego certain pleasures— the freedom and relaxation that go with a simpler mode of living, privacy, peace. More than this, he encounters numerous hazards. He faces the possibility of meeting accident, crime, and especially sickness. Congested living and the constant moving of goods and persons from one place to another foster the multiplication and spread of disease germs; strain and tension foster mental disorders. Because of this, medical care has become a prime concern with large numbers of Americans today. The doctor and the hospital occupy a foremost place among social institutions.

Medical education has made frequent adjustment to this rapid advance. There were no medical schools in the United States two centuries ago. It was customary for an aspiring physician to obtain his knowledge by serving as apprentice to an established doctor. When the class-room study of medicine was first introduced in this country it was conducted upon the basis of a short two years' course. In 1872 the period of study was extended to cover three annual periods of five months each. Just before the turn of the century a four-year medical course with a prerequisite of one year of ordinary college education was instituted. Today

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