UO’s James Mohr releases new book, “Licensed to Practice”

In “Licensed to Practice,” Mohr looks at the legal origins of medical licenses
In “Licensed to Practice,” Mohr looks at the legal origins of medical licenses

University of Oregon historian James Mohr‘s new book, “Licensed to Practice: The Supreme Court Defines the American Medical Profession,” looks at the legal origins, as well as historical implications, of medical licensing that exist in 21st-century America. 

The book explores the fundamental foundation of the medical system. A shooting in 1891 in Wheeling, W. Va., depicted in the opening pages, left one doctor dead and another on trial for his life over the issue of medical licensing and was “a sorry personal consequence of the far larger and historically significant battle among West Virginia’s physicians over the future of their profession,” Mohr said.

“Through most of the 19th century, anyone could call themselves a doctor and could practice medicine on whatever basis they wished,” Mohr said. But, in 1889, the U.S. Supreme Court case, Dent v. West Virginia, effectively transformed medical practice from an unregulated occupation to a legally recognized profession.

Mohr, College of Arts and Sciences faculty member who holds a Philip H. Knight professorship in history, specializes in the history of American social policy, with a special emphasis on health care.

- from the UO College of Arts and Sciences