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July 28, 2000
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v2.1 Reference

Becoming a Physician

Medical Education in Britain, France, Germany, and the United States, 1750-1945

Focusing on the social, intellectual, and political context in which medical education took place, Thomas Neville Bonner offers a detailed analysis of transformations in medical instruction in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the United States between the Enlightenment and World War II. From a unique comparative perspective, this study considers how divergent approaches to medical instruction in these countries mirrored as well as impacted their particular cultural contexts. The book opens with an examination of key developments in medical education during the late eighteenth century and continues by tracing the evolution of clinical teaching practices in the early 1800s. It then charts the rise of laboratory-based teaching in the nineteenth century and the progression toward the establishment of university standards for medical education during the early twentieth century. Throughout, the author identifies changes in medical student populations and student life, including the opportunities available for women and minorities.

About the Author

Thomas Neville Bonner, Distinguished Professor of History and Higher Education, emeritus, at Wayne State University is currently a visiting scholar in history and biology at Arizona State University. He has written five books on the history of medicine, as well as two textbooks in history. He has held two Guggenheim fellowships, two Fulbright awards, and received major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Library of Medicine.


[A] great strength of Bonner's superb book is its grasp of the many and distinct strands that have gone into the skein of medical education... This study will long remain definitive.

- Roy Porter - Nature

A sweeping comparative analysis of medical education... For readers interested in seeing the big picture, Becoming a Physician offers by far the best available view.

- Ronald L. Numbers - Journal of the American Medical Association

A work of considerable scholarship... Bonner has made an important contribution to our understanding of the shaping of medical education in the past and the influence of that history on medical schools today.

- Gert H. Brieger - New England Journal of Medicine

An encyclopedic history of Western medical education... Bonner presents the evolving and eclectic patterns with extraordinary detail as he skillfully weaves together the British, French, German and American experiences.

- USA Today

Thomas Neville Bonner's history of medical education is a change fromthe purely naitonal history of medical education, and a refreshing contrast to the all-too-common anniversary history of a single school... an accessible study [that] offers other scholars an easy introduction into a thriving field of historical research.

- Jonathan Reinarz,French History

A lucid map of the changes in pedagogy over two hundred years in four major centres of learning in the western world. While Bonner has a masterly grasp of the extensive literature and his own research is impressive, the real strength of the work lies in his insistence on reviewing medical training as a public and social undertaking and in his heroic attempt to explain the reasons for regional differences, particularly in terms of national political and cultural structures.

- Louella Vaughan - English Historical Review

Becoming a Physician is a highly valuable book, absolutely necessary to anyone who is interested in the history of medicine and history of education... it is a major resource in medical history.

- Jacques Poirier - Europe Review
Johns Hopkins University Press
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9780801864827 : becoming-a-physician-bonner
Paperback / softback
424 Pages
$31.00 USD

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