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Doctors and Medicine in the Commonwealth

I could write a book on the subject, gentlemen, but it's easier to just call you stupid and get it over with.” -Dr. Horatio Bourgeois, responding to his critics in a heated debate during a conference at the Royal University of Phaeton.

The Commonwealth prides itself as one of the most scientifically and technologically advanced empires in the world, and nowhere else is that more evident than in their modern medical practices. Gone are the days of blood letting and baseless fears of miasmas in the night air, now replaced with sound scientific theories such as that of spontaneous generation. In the past few years Dr. Horatio Bourgeois's sweeping theories of tiny, invisible organisms that cause disease and illness has captured the imaginations of the people, but have made him the laughing stock of the scientific community.


Physicians have always been highly regarded in the Commonwealth, and practically all respectable settlements have a village doctor. Doctors, surgeons, barbers, and the like are all expected to be well-learned gentlemen that serve as role models in their communities. They are often very influential in local politics, regardless of whether or not they are noble descendants. In many fiefdoms the ruling lord handpicks the individuals they believe will make good physicians, then pays for their schooling out of their own coffers, and go on to carefully select where they will serve. Oft time children can be found studying diligently for this reason, hoping that they will gain the attention of their lord and have a chance at a respectable life.


Sometimes individual territories have their own unique customs concerning physicians, and the Outlying Provinces are no different. Unlike the majority of the Commonwealth, in the Outlying Provinces all physicians are expected to function equally well as surgeons, and indeed in the days of the Provinces' independent self-rule this was required by law. Many scholars postulate that this arose from the Outlying Provinces' rural nature, where large cities are few and far between and the roads are known for frequently washing out or becoming otherwise impassible. Although they are no longer required by law to have such a wide breadth of skills, there are few villages that will accept them if they do not. This proved a problem for one Kevin Eisner, who was unable to continue his surgical training because of poor control over his right arm due to a severe injury.


Another unusual tradition in the Outlying Provinces is that of physicians allowing a lock of their bangs to grow out, and then gathering it into a sort of ponytail. Until the Provinces' acquisition by the Commonwealth, it was even illegal for anyone but a physician to sport this hair style. Physicians' apprentices are expected to begin growing their bangs out as soon as they begin their first day of apprenticeship, but they are not allowed to let it become very long until they are made full physicians in their own right. In surgery, they often pull their hair back over their ear or fasten it under a cap or bandanna to keep it out of their eyes or from otherwise getting in the way.


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