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WOMAN IN MEDICINE.

BY EMMA F. A. DRAKE, M. D., DENVER, COLO.

To utter the truism, “Woman has a place in Medicine,"is entirely unnecessary in this enlightened day, but it serves me as a sort of introduction to the subject I wish to discuss.

That woman has a distinctive place in medicine is the real question; and that more and more public opinion is relegating to her certain branches in the healing art is, I believe, not a compliment to, but a recognition of, her ability to do the best and in the fittest manner the work so acknowledged, in the nature of things, as belonging properly to the woman physician.

To-day is a day of specialists and few physicians desire to practice the healing art as a whole; while they acknowledge the necessity of thorough knowledge of the broad principles which underlie the science in its entirety yet they choose to follow some one, or at the most two related lines, toward perfection.

Toward the work best suited to her, woman has been tending from the beginning of medical history, through a long line of experiences, sympathies, practical midwifery and gynæcological suffering; through knowledge gained at the bedside of her own and her neighbor's ailing little ones, and through the incomparable agony of travail in birth for mankind. In all these her innate womanly instincts have not only been fostered but cultured to their best, and what more fitting preparation for the place she has come to hold in the medical profession of to-day?

The art of obstetrics, so long held in disgust by male physicians, has offered a fine school for woman's preparatory work.

From the earliest times down to the present has woman practiced midwifery-with this exception in the different ages—until less than three centuries ago she had the work entirely in her own hands by common consent, with no adequate preparation for the fearful responsibility.

So strong was public opinion upon this question that as late as the early part of the sixteenth century, a physician who had disguised himself as a woman to attend a case of labor that he might study it, was discovered and buried alive for his daring and folly.

That only recently has male midwifery been allowed is proven by a quotation from a recent paper in the Journal of Obstetrics: “As late as 1843 the fellows of the College of Surgery of England denied the right of admission to the council of the college to those who practiced the base art of midwifery, which was stigmatized as an art foreign to the habits of gentlemen of enlarged academic education."

Had they said “man has a field wide enough and does not care to enter this, as it is peculiarly woman's place," and at once opened wide their college doors for the admission of woman, the end which must come would have been hastened.

In the lying-in room, in gynæcological work, medical and surgical, and if she please, in the knowledge of and practice in diseases peculiar to childhood, is woman's desired sphere clearly defined.

Not that she should be forbidden practice in other departments, if she choose, but that here lies her peculiarly fitting place.

Said a physician to me not long since: “The time is soon coming, I believe, when abdominal surgery for your sex will be largely done by women; and it should be so. Woman has a keener instinct, a defter touch and more delicate, and these all proclaim her ability when she is fitted well for it."

These words came to me with peculiar force as they were uttered by an abdominal surgeon of ro mean reputation.

There is a feeling on the part of many women as well as more men, that woman is not strong enough physically to practice obstetrics successfully, as if brute force were an indispensable requisite. However, this sort of sentiment in the light of higher education is gradually losing ground, and woman is being installed as the trusted friend and wise physician, in these hours of woman's keenest physical anguish, more and more widely.

No right thinking person desires that woman should become less womanly any more than he desires that man should become less manly. There are characteristics, sensibilities, sympathies and ability that belong peculiarly to each sex, and the Creator designed that it should ever be so.

Not equal the one to the other in every particular; but the one the supplement and complement of the other. How natural, then, that in the great sphere of medicine some lines of work are in a special sense adapted to woman, while others are surely in the domain of man.

Whatever detracts from the delicate, shrinking, womanly modesty, which is woman's crown, is harmful to her; and we believe many women have been sacrificed upon the alter of pelvic difficulties rather than do violence to their sense of inborn chastity, by consulting a male physician for the cure of their ailments.

"Foolishly sensitive," say you? Yes; and so say I, if she must choose between the two, but there is better way out, and the world is coming slowly to a realization of the fact, namely, the woman physician, and upon herself, her thorough fitting for the work and withal a keen and dignified appreciation of the honored position she is called upon to fill, depends the popularity of the way.

In the agony of the lying-in room, the thought that a helper is near is, says one, the paramount thought in the mind of the sufferer, and she cares little whether her medical attendant be a man or woman.

In her last hours of suffering this may be true, but not from the beginning. In her necessity she may put aside other thoughts, but the shrinking is there, and to sacrifice it costs an effort.

I have read that in parts of South America obstetrics and diseases peculiar to women are restricted by law to the woman practitioners. Shall the enlightened sister nation, our own land, be slower than her less-famod sister in recognizing the fitness of such a law from a moral, sensitive, modest, or, in fact, from any element of the psycho-physical standpoint.

In a similar manner would I have the sphere of the nurse defined. To my mind the ordinary training in our schools for nurses is demoralizing in the extreme, and I would write it in italics.

To-day, when hundreds of men are languishing for work, why subject the sensitive girl or woman nurse to the humiliating duties which are imposed upon her in nearly every bospital in our land?

What reason, moral or physical for asking the attendance of female nurses in the male wards any more than for subjecting our lady patients to the ministrations of male nurses? It is abhorrent, and will, I believe, come to be so recognized by the public in general very soon.

Well, in the millennium of medicine all these things will be adjusted, and may we pray that every conscientious, moral, enlightened educator of public opinion shall do all in his power to hasten its dawn. True, woman has not long been fitted for all this responsibility, but is she in the fault for this? For centuries has she been knocking for admission at the doors of our medical colleges that she might fit herself conscientiously for the position she has been forced to occupy, but without avail until recent years. What wonder, then, that suffering womankind, grown tired in waiting for this time, has allowed her delicate, inborn modesty to be in a measure sacrificed upon the altar of necessity.

I am not writing in the spirit of or pleading for the so-called rights of woman as opposed to man's; there should be no opposition; there are

no rights save those defined by the eternal fitness of things, and for these only I plead.

Rather is the question one of morality. This age is robbing the future generations of its chaste birthright, and a crying wrong is done. Far easier to call a balt now than when the evil has grown stronger by neglect and carelessness.

I would have the old sentiment of fitness and morality to return and I would have woman educated in the best of schools to take her place where woman only belongs.

OPENING EXERCISES

OF THE DENVER HOMEOPATHIC MEDICAL COLLEGE AND

HOSPITAL, SESSION OF 1896-97.

The third annual winter session in this college was opened on
Tuesday evening, October 3, at the college hall. There was a large
attendance of students, teachers and friends of the institution.
A brief welcome to the students by the dean was followed by the
introductory lecture on

"HOMEOPATHY IN MEDICINE,"

BY DAVID A. STRICKLER, M. D., PROFESSOR OF HISTORY OF MEDICINE,

ORGANON AND MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY, DENVER HOMEOPATHIC

MEDICAL COLLEGE AND HOSPITAL.

a

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN—The board of directors of the Denver
Homeopathic Medical College and Hospital Association, in this the
third year of its history, deemed it wise to establish a chair on
History of Medicine, Organon and Medical Technology. A chair of
much the same scope was established in the Boston University School
of Medicine some years ago, and two years ago the Homeopathic
Department of the University of Minnesota established a like chair.
With these exceptions, so far as I know, this is the only college
covering the subjects which it is our purpose to teach.

The history of medicine will consist of a brief resume of medi-
cine from its earliest known history to the time of Hahnemann; the
origin and history of the different schools of medicine as they exist
to-day, together with their essential differences and their claims.

The organon belongs to the history and practice of Homeopathy
and will be taught as a part of such.

Medical Technology will deal largely with technical terms, their
origin and use.

The aim of the chair will be to give to the student reasons for
his faith in Homeopathy, to teach how to apply the law of similars,
and how to study medicine, as a whole, to the best advantage.

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