Nathan Smith (physician)

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Nathan Smith

Nathan Smith (September 30, 1762 – January 26, 1829)[1] was one of New England’s best-known and respected physicians. He was a skilled surgeon, teacher, writer, and practitioner. At a time when most American physicians were poorly educated, he single-handedly founded Dartmouth Medical School, and co-founded the University of Vermont College of Medicine, the medical school at Bowdoin College, and the Yale School of Medicine.

Smith was born in Rehoboth, Massachusetts. He first began work as a surgeon in Chester, Vermont at age 21. He later went to the Harvard College's medical department where he obtained his MB in 1790.[2] Smith was the third graduate of Harvard's medical department. He was later awarded an MD by Harvard in 1811. In 1803 Smith had gone to the University of Edinburgh where he attended medical classes for a year.

Initially the only member of the Dartmouth Medical School faculty, Smith taught anatomy, chemistry, surgery, and clinical medicine. He essentially served as dean and treasurer of the medical school, also. Smith emphasized experience rather than theory, and he largely eschewed bleeding and purging, favoring support of the body's own healing powers and attentiveness to the patient's comfort. Using these principles, he was a consultant on the child Joseph Smith, the future founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, saving his leg from amputation.

At Yale Smith was the first professor of physic, surgery and obstetrics.[3]

A collection of notes taken on his medical lectures between 1814 and 1815 are held at the National Library of Medicine.[4]

Smith's four sons all became physicians, the most prominent being Nathan Ryno Smith.

See also[edit]

Smith-Theobald Family


  1. ^ James Stuart Olson (26 June 1989). The History of Cancer: An Annotated Bibliography. ABC-CLIO. p. 76. ISBN 978-0-313-25889-3. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  2. ^ history of surgery at the University of Vermont. Retrieved on 2012-04-25.
  3. ^ Harry Friedenwald (1931). "Samuel Theobald, M. D". Trans Am Ophthalmol Soc. 29: 14–18. PMC 1316785. 
  4. ^ "Lectures on the theory and practice of physic 1814-1815". National Library of Medicine. 

External links[edit]