“Country communities offer little inducement to the strictly modern practitioner,” wrote Dr. W. S. May of Underhill, Vermont, in 1899. “Too many country physicians are mere automatons, doing the bidding of pharmaceutic and manufacturing chemists, whose specialties are the sole materia medica, and whose therapeutics coincide with the monographs with which their table is gratuitously supplied.” Between about 1880 and the early 1920s, numerous articles like Dr. May’s appeared in medical journals that critiqued the practice of country doctors as unscientific or even dangerous. Adept physicians, it was agreed, did not remain long in country practice before they decamped to a modern, urban, and much more scientific, medical practice.
Between 1870 and 1920, even as the number of physicians was increasing dramatically, the ratio for doctors to rural population had dropped while the ratio in large cities had grown 36 percent. By the 1920s, the disdain for rural practice had created an identifiable crisis in health care in rural areas that grew even more problematic in the middle of the twentieth century. Yet, even as the medical profession was heaping opprobrium on country doctors, popular culture outlets made them into venerated symbols of heroic American manhood similar to that of cowboys. This talk uses evidence from medical journals, movies, biographies and autobiographies, and popular magazines to explore and explain this cultural tension.
Charlotte Borst became the 13th president of the College of Idaho in June 2015. Borst is the first woman to hold the presidency in the College’s 125-year history. A native of Rutland, Vermont, she comes from a long line of educators.
Borst’s administrative career has been grounded in the liberal arts. Before coming to the C of I, she served six years as the vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty at Whittier College, in California. Prior to that, she served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Rhodes College, in Tennessee, and dean of arts and sciences at Union College, in New York.
Throughout her career, Borst has helped build interdisciplinary programs, fostered internationalization and diversification through both on-campus and study abroad initiatives, supported faculty scholarship and research, managed significant enrollment increases, led strategic planning related to budgetary goals, building projects, faculty development, and more.
Dr. Borst’s academic interests focus on the history of science and medicine. A nationally-respected historian, her research explores the historical relationship of medical science and the complex gender and racial aspects of professionalization in the United States.