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Medical Professions

A detailing of the medical professionals of the era

During the Georgian era, there were three primary types of medical practitioners:

  • physician/doctor

  • surgeon

  • apothecary

Each served different purposes, some worked together, and some were more common in the area than the others.

And no, sadly midwives were not considered medical practitioners. To read more about midwives, specifically, check out my research on Midwives of the 18th century, as well as some of the Midwifery Herbs used.

Physician: The physician/doctor was the only of the three considered to be a gentleman, as he was an educated man of good birth who did not receive a salary, did not physically handle patients, and did not learn a trade. This was one of the four profession choices for younger sons of aristocrats.

Surgeon: The surgeon was not a gentleman since he learned a trade rather than received an education, and he worked physically with the patients, doing what the doctor could not and would not. If one was to fight a duel, he would bring his surgeon, not his doctor. The saw and leeches were the most common tools used by the surgeon, thus the nicknames sawbones and leech.

Apothecary: The apothecary was the lowest ranking medical practitioner but the most common to find in the countryside, relying on herbs and home remedies rather than tools like saws or parasites. The apothecary would happily make house calls, while the doctor and surgeon would more often than not work out of their surgery, requiring the patients to come to them.

For additional information on the profession and education, check out these resources:

Jane Austen's World: The Physician in the 19th century

Golden Romance Research: University Life

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