History of Medicine
In 2011 I started the History of Medicine Course at the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries and was successful in passing the Diploma Examination in June 2012. My research dissertation was entitled: From Charity to Providence: Influences on the Organisation of Dispensaries in he Early 19th Century.
Before the mid 17th century doctors believed the Galenic theory that blood was made in the liver and the gradually moved to to the internal organs and peripheries of the body. They didn't realise the heart was a pump and they did not know the blood circulated. The physician William Harvey was the first to publish his theory on the Circulation of blood in 1628 called Du Moto Cordis - the motion of the heart. He did experiments showing that the veins in the arms had valves which only allowed the blood to move back towards the heart. At first physicians at the Royal College did not believe his work.
The Diploma in the History of Medicine was instituted by the Society of Apothecaries of London in 1970 as a natural development of the activities of the Society's Faculty of the History of Medicine and Pharmacy, which was established in 1959. It is designed in part as a qualification for those who may be called upon to teach the history of medicine, either in separate formal courses or as part of the undergraduate course of medical studies or of studies in history or the social sciences. It is the Society's intention that the Diploma shall be regarded as a proof of a good general knowledge of up-todate sources and methods of inquiry, of an adequate factual knowledge of one special period or topic within the field, and an ability to lecture in an interesting manner.
Medical history can be looked at in many different ways. The classical hegemonic approach looked at medicine as moving from one great discovery to another littered with appreciations of great figures in medicine such as Galen, Harvey, Versalius, Lister, Nightingale, Pasteur. Some people were forgotten or written out of the history and medical history is almost always portrayed from the doctor's point of view. Very little information is available on what the patient's experience was or how they felt. This is an area for research although the material can be somewhat difficult to find.
This is the cover of the classic textbook of anatomy De humani corporis fabrica (On the fabric of the human body) written by Andreas Versalius. He is shown in the centre of the picture looking out with rather piercing eyes. Read a fascinating article on Versalius and his anatomy here.