Ambroise Paré: Father of modern surgery

Ambroise Paré: Father of modern surgery


Like a surgeon, a barber must have steady hands, a light touch with sharp instruments, and the trust of his clients. The similarities are less surprising with the realization that, prior to the 18th century, these two professions were one and the same.

French barber-surgeon Ambroise Paré (1510-1590) found it impossible to master Latin, which ruled out the more prestigious and lucrative career of physician. While these practitioners seldom deigned to soil themselves with blood and other bodily fluids, barber-surgeons were expected to handle everything from beard trimming and boil lancing to amputations and delivering babies.

After an apprenticeship in a Paris hospital, Paré joined the military, where he practiced his craft with diligence and humility. Of one officer he treated, Paré wrote,

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