Compared to the high status of a university educated physician, the surgeon originally had a low status in the medical hierarchy. The surgeon served an apprenticeship and was a member of a livery company, like other medieval craftsmen such as barbers.
In 1540 guilds of surgeons and barbers were merged to form the Company of Barber Surgeons responsible for licensing surgeons to practice in London and Westminster. As the academic basis of surgery developed in the 18th century, surgery itself became more professional. The Company of Surgeons, the forerunner of today’s Royal College of Surgeons, became independent from the Barbers.
The Medical Registration Act of 1858 recognised the surgeon as the equal of the physician as modern medicine took its place as a profession. Kevin Brown will how and why these events took place, and more...Read more