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Learning to Heal

The Medical Profession in Colonial Mexico, 1767-1831

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Luz Maria Hernández-Sáenz

The professionalization of medicine in Mexico may be traced back to the eighteenth century when new European ideologies, organization of the Bourbon armies, and changing social values laid its foundations. This work examines the organization of the medical profession, the various branches of medicine, the beginnings of formal surgical education, and the role of women as practitioners. Contemporary treatments are also examined and the quality of medical service compared to that offered in Europe. The analysis of different practitioners and their patients offers a fascinating glimpse of late colonial Mexico while professional rivalry reflects the growing Criollo-peninsular antagonism that would lead to independence.