Samuel W. Belcher
DR. WILLIAM S .W. RUSCHENBERGER AND PROFESSIONALISM FOR SURGEONS W THE PRE-CIVIL WAR U.S.NAVY
(Under the Direction of Dr. Todd Savitt) Department of History, October 2002.
This thesis examines the issue of professionalism for naval surgeons prior to the Civil War. It focuses on the professionalism sought by surgeons within the navy itself. These professional issues involved education, professional qualifications, and the assimilation of rank. Various surgeons throughout the first half of the 19 th century made attempts to address these issues. Some were successful, but most were not. By the first quarter of the century several prominent surgeons had tackled the problems of education and entry qualifications. However, the assimilation of rank remained a struggle. One of the principle surgeons involved with that struggle was Dr. William S.W. Ruschenberger. His career, beginning in 1826, lasted for forty-three years. By utilizing his career to outline these professional issues, an understanding can be gained of their meaning and impact upon naval medicine in general.