Butler Journal of Undergraduate Research

Faculty Sponsor

Scott Swanson


This article explores the transition of surgery from a collection of skills and techniques used on the battlefield to its acceptance as a medical profession. Opinion was shaped through advances in technology, use of anesthesia, and surgical practices. This success prompted a shift in public confidence facilitated by the Church’s funding of public autopsies led by surgeons. Once the public understood the greater effectiveness of surgeons, their status changed from butcher to doctor by the early 18th century. Previous research has focused on the technological advances behind the professionalization of surgery and the sociological change in beliefs, but this article will incorporate elements of both.