Nathan Smith

Physician

1762 – 1829

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Who was Nathan Smith?

Nathan Smith 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. 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.

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Born
1762
Profession
Education
  • Harvard Medical School
Employment
  • Yale School of Medicine
Died
1829

Submitted
on July 23, 2013

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