Utah State University Digital History Collections


Practicing Medicine: A Historical Glimpse at Utah and Beyond


Document Type

Digital Collection


Merrill-Cazier Library


"Usually, when we think about medicine and its remarkable abilities, what comes to mind is the science and all it has given us to fight sickness and misery," says Dr. Atul Gawande, in his award-winning book Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science. But, when you get sick, he says "it is not science you call upon but a doctor. A doctor with good days and bad days. A doctor with a weird laugh and a bad haircut. A doctor with three other patients to see and, inevitably, gaps in what he knows and skills he's still trying to learn." It's no mistake that we speak of doctors and nurses practicing medicine, for mastery remains elusive. Gawande's candid book about medicine exemplifies essay writing at its best and is Utah State University 's choice for the 2007 Common Literature Experience. Created to support reading and discussion of Complications, the digital collection Practicing Medicine: A Historical Glimpse at Utah and Beyond explores three centuries of medical practice and instruction, with particular focus on Utah. These historical materials take us back to the roots of medical practice and a time when remedies consisted of such easily recognized ingredients as "earth-worms, well washed." Perhaps they will lend perspective to, and renewed appreciation for, the unpronounceable medicines and modern treatments, however imperfect, that Dr. Gawande and his colleagues apply today.