Thursday Open Line

On this date in 1772, America’s first medical licensing law was enacted by the colony of New Jersey. A licensing board was set up with three members, and the practice of medicine was forbidden without the approval of the panel. The licensing board was comprised of two New Jersey Supreme Court judges, and a third member chosen by the judges. Exempted from its oversight were colonists who pulled teeth, bled patients, or gave free care or assistance. Medical education and licensing has grown considerably stricter since 1772. In the U.S. today, there are 120 universities conferring some 16,000 medical degrees, about evenly split between men and women. Nowadays when all health professions are considered, women received nearly 58 percent of the doctorates.