How to Become a Medical Historian


Contrary to popular belief, a medical historian is not exactly someone who studies the history of medicine. They are professionals who inject an academic and scholarly element into medicine due to the nature of their way and their methodology. Medical history is divided into a number of categories such as social history, personal history, family history, and surgical history.

Medical historians are quite skilled and handy when it comes to conduction research, analyzing information, and developing scholarly articles. The purpose of all is to peer into the depths of the past. Granted, they will most certainly possess knowledge of the history of medicine, but it is more for the purpose of discovery and assimilating the facts for the better understanding of cases.

Job Duties

A medical historian must provide a number of job duties that will add value and meaning to the system. These job duties depend largely on the level of experience, institute standards and intricacy of the case. Listed below you will find some common job duties that you can refer to that will tell you what to expect as you enter your career.

  1. Thoroughly research and analyze various publications from research journals
  2. Conduct research on historical documents to gauge whether they are authentic or not
  3. Provide references for scholarly articles and research based publications
  4. Where needed, edit scholarly articles and materials to add value and worth to the output
  5. Analyze historical data such as medical records, court records, photos, newspapers and so on
  6. Gather information and data that can be used for research on a particular topic
  7. Share your knowledge on medical history and cases in settings such as schools, historical medical exhibitions, universities, medical conferences, museums and the like
  8. Conduct interviews with relevant personnel who may be linked to a medical era or discovery
  9. Take deep and in depth medical histories on patients and their families
  10. Uncover all relevant data from a patient that may be pertinent to a case
  11. Exhibit findings that may be relevant to the public
  12. Provide research based assistance to senior professionals such as scholars and doctors
  13. Organize data and make sense of it by sorting it and later interpreting it
  14. Document and record information in a manner than can be helpful for future viewers
  15. Participate in efforts and drives that aim at preserving history

Career Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for historians is quite favorable. The employment level for historians is expected to grow by 18% during the years 2010 to 2020 which roughly translates to an increase of 700 jobs. There is demand for qualified medical historians in the teaching and research categories of medicine as medical historians possess knowledge and expertise in many areas that can aid the medical field. Due to their in depth knowledge on the various fields of medicine, medical historians are a great boon to the academic and research sides of medicine.

Salary Prospects

The average annual salary for medical historians is $80,000 ( In this field experience matters when it comes to earning greater salaries – so as you spend more time in the industry your market value is likely to increase. According to another source, the average annual salary for a medical historian is between $65,000 ( The fields of academia and research may prove to be rewarding.

Education Requirements

A wide array of academic skills is needed if you wish to enter this line of work. Most of these skills are acquired during the course of studying at high school as well as an undergraduate program. Analytical skills, research skills, communication skills, report writing skills and so on are examples of skills that hold value in the field of a medical historian. Academic exposure and training are usually the strong points for a medical historian as much of their work is scholarly and academia related.

To begin with, a candidate interested in becoming a medical historian must successfully complete an undergraduate degree that focuses on medical science, medical history or a similar academic direction. Usually medical historians also hold a master’s degree or a doctorate. Some medical historians also possess medical degrees that give them the direction and focus required to delve into medical history. Basically, a medical historian can have multiple education backgrounds which can greatly be an asset to their future career.

Listed below are a few resources that you should explore. They should be able to give you direction on how to enter this interesting career. Use these resources to understand the market and industry dynamics that will allow you to prepare for your career growth.

  1. American Association for the History of Medicine
  2. History of Science Society
  3. American Historical Association
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