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Awards

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Nathan Smith Distinguished Service Award
Nathan Smith, the fi rst all-New England surgeon, was one of the most remarkable men ever to adorn the American surgical profession. Born in 1762 in Rehoboth, Massachusetts, his only education was from his parents, his father being a farmer-surveyor and his mother a midwife; from Doctor Josiah Goodhue, a prominent surgeon of the upper Connecticut Valley, and from the Harvard Medical School near the time of its inception. In addition he accomplished a period of eight months of study in Edinburgh and London.

During his long career, he was a major force in the establishment and development of Dartmouth Medical School while he developed an extensive surgical practice in the upper Connecticut Valley. Success in upper New England was followed by an appointment in the new Yale Medical School, where he made contributions as a surgeon, teacher and practitioner with attention to the necessary requirements of politics. He further directly contributed to the establishment of the new medical school at Bowdoin College and to the new medical school at the University of Vermont.

During this time his contributions to the practice of surgery were of great importance. Essays on typhus (typhoid) fever, on the pathology and treatment of necrosis (osteomyelitis) and in the performance of ovarian cystectomy were no-table. Other reports described new methods for fashioning skin fl aps following amputation and the use of various apparatus for the treatment of fractures of the extremities. His record in urinary lithotomy was enviable. No evaluation of this remarkable man would be complete without mention of his family. All four of his sons graduated from Yale Medical School and nine grandsons, six great-grandsons and at last count one great-great grandson entered medicine.

In the New England area and perhaps in the country, no man contributed more than did Nathan Smith, not only to the birth of surgery as a specialty, but to the early evolution of the medical teaching institution. As a surgeon, as a teacher and as a person of high intellectual and moral quality, there is no one who surpasses him.

Gordon A. Donaldson, MD
Presidential Address, New England Surgical Society, 1977

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