Lunchtime Seminar: 11th March: Anne Hanley

If you were unable to make Anne’s seminar and would like to view a copy of the presentation along with a recording of the paper and questions please CLICK HERE

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Anne Hanley

University of Cambridge

Venereological education among
medical undergraduates in England,


11th March 2014

1 p.m. – 2 p.m.

Simon Building Room 2.57

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Venereological education among
medical undergraduates in England,

Historians writing on nineteenth- and early-twentieth century medical debates regarding modes of venereal disease transmission, diagnosis, treatment and prevention have rarely addressed the fundamental question of venereological training among English medical students. It has generally been assumed by historians that practitioners acquired an adequate working knowledge of the symptoms of venereal disease, as well as the treatment methods available to patients. Lesley Hall is correct in stating that venereology was not taught as a coherent and contained subject on an undergraduate curriculum designed to produce competent generalists. However, this does not mean that students were not exposed to cases of venereal disease in the course of their clinical work or encountered venereology in other subjects. It is well accepted that venereological knowledge amongst medical students and practitioners was generally incomplete, and that the undergraduate curriculum was overloaded and slow to integrate new clinical practices and ideas. The tension between Hall’s argument and assumptions made by historians about venereological knowledge among medical graduates warrants further scrutiny. Venereological education was not adequate but it is unlikely that undergraduates were completely ignorant of basic diagnostic and therapeutic practices. This paper examines the nature of venereological education available to English medical students at the turn of the twentieth century and some of the ways that this education affected the quality of their professional practice.

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