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Archeological digs have provided important clues about the ancient practice of medicine. Physicians were practicing medicine for pharaohs in ancient Egypt, dating as far back as 1500 B.C. Medicine progressed thanks to knowledge gained by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. In Western Europe, medical schools were created during the 14th century, enabling students to study under master physicians. During this time, the diagnosis of illness was fraught with superstition, and the Roman Catholic Church had a significant impact on medical care. During the American Civil War, illnesses and battle injuries led to new medical practices, medical equipment, and hospitalization systems.
While Civil War injuries forced advances in medical care, several people were instrumental in the progression of medicine during this time. Jonathan Letterman was involved in the creation of an ambulance system for transporting wounded soldiers. William A. Hammond, surgeon general of the Union army, worked to institute hygiene practices in hospitals. Clara Barton's efforts focused on field care for wounded soldiers as she brought medical supplies and care to the injured soldiers in their camps. Nursing was not a recognized profession at this time and nursing schools and nursing jobs were non-existent. Women began fulfilling this role, however, in their desire to serve during the war.
Today, hospitals deliver health care to the population at large. In the process of providing this care, nurses stand on the front lines, responsible for the majority of the hands-on care and assistance that patients receive. There are nursing schools throughout the country to educate students wishing to become nurses. After earning credentials, a variety of different nursing jobs await nurses.
Clara Barton and Nursing During the Civil War
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