Physicianhood in History – Medicine Explained

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Muscles in French anatomical engraving - Photo by: University of Liverpool Faculty of Health & Life Sciences - Source: Flickr Creative Commons

Medicine! What would we do without it? To be fair with you, probably suffer and struggle a whole lot. Imagine not being able to fix the overwhelming pain of an infected cavity or having to power through the duration of a whole headache. Nowadays, we can visit the dentist or take an aspirin.

Before? People were likely to visit the dentist as well, although the procedures they used back then were anything but what we expected them to be today. Despite common belief, ancient peoples were not stupid or primitive.

If anything, humans from 10,000 years ago had a similar level of natural intellect as we do – they just didn’t have the privilege of their ancestors having worked for several millennia before them so as to capitalize on their brainpower and previous achievements.

Among one of the earliest developments of earnest human civilization is the field of medicine. This article quickly describes the role of doctors and physicians in history, so read on if you’re interested! Finally, if you’re a medical practitioner in search of work, then find healthcare jobs here.

When Was Medicine Invented?

That’s a question that is almost impossible to answer. For obvious reasons, we can only draw back on so much of human history. As far as we know, up until about 10,000 BCE, humans still used to live in caves.

The first form of medicine was herbalism, which is essentially the study and application of plants for medicinal uses. It’s not difficult for most of us to imagine your typical “barbarian” society in which there’s a wise woman or a witch that uses a variety of herbs to create poultices and cure illnesses, which is not an unrealistic depiction – at least for the Stone Age.

The development of medicinal techniques properly is estimated to have begun soon thereafter, with the earliest known example of dentistry dating back to about 7,000 BCE in Baluchistan, now a province divided between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Trepanning, as well, seems to have been quite common, with the first known operation being performed in roughly 5,000 BC. This is a practice that is likely to mortify most readers since it consists in drilling a hole into your skull and then having it tampered with. Unsurprisingly, this frequently resulted in an infection that would make the problem worse.

It’s interesting to note how early people were aware that you could fix, for example, a buildup of blood in the brain through trepanation. It makes you wonder how they realized that making a hole in someone’s skull can actually help their problem!

Physicians As We Know Them

Hippocrates of Kos is considered the “father of modern medicine.” The oath a physician must traditionally swear before being given their degree is called the Hippocratic Oath, as well, which serves to remind us how important he was.

He is most valued as the person who introduced the first intellectual school dedicated to practicing medicine. Furthermore, the importance of ethics in medicine would not have been as pronounced without Hippocrates’ efforts.

While physicians have technically existed since at least 5,000 BC, it wasn’t until later that they blossomed in terms of their profession. Almost 1,500 years after the birth of Hippocrates, the first universities devoted to medicine started appearing throughout Italy, though it was not during the period of the Renaissance that medicine truly became revolutionized.

We’ve come a very long way since then. Consider heart transplants!

To Be a Physician

The job of a physician is not an easy one. There is a lot of knowledge you have to store so that you always know how to diagnose and treat your patients. Furthermore, you must be strongly ethically and morally responsible since their livelihood rests in your hands, and therefore have to do your best to ensure their well being.

If you’re interested in medicine, then you might want to consider becoming a physician. The road is hard, but it’s very much worth it.