Medical Historian

Job Description

Medical historians frequently work at universities, teaching courses on healthcare history and other historical topics.

They may also work at medical schools, and may provide additional medical coursework to students depending on their competencies and training. This narrow historical field is a challenging one in which to find employment, focusing as it does on the past of the medical profession.

Another role for medical historians is that of curators and developers of exhibits at museums that including medicinal history in their collections and displays. The National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian is a prime example of an organization where a medical historian can find work developing public exhibits, cataloging and increasing the accessibility of health-related medical collections, or researching topics for scholarly publication.

Some of these professionals find a career at libraries or archives such as the National Library of Medicine, collating and expanding the collections with high quality materials.




While a main responsibility of Medical Historians is to teach, they also develop public exhibits, organize and provide access to historical collections and carry out research leading to scholarly publications in the field. Almost all Medical Librarians have a degree in Library Research. These are some of the things they are responsible for:

They research, analyze, record, and interpret the history of medicine as recorded in sources, such as government and hospital records, old medical journals, newspapers and other periodicals, photographs, interviews, films, electronic media, and unpublished manuscripts, like personal diaries and letters.




Reading Comprehension

Must be able to understand written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents and be able to teach what you've learned to others.

Maintain databases

Must know how to keep information current and update databases as time progresses. Must sort info and keep it organized. As historians, you will have countless hours in research, so being able to maintain and store info in databases is important.


Be able to study and research practices and procedures of old to advance today's medicine and teach others the foundation of medicine.

Critical Thinking

Must constantly be devising new ways of interacting with people, adapt to changes, and learn about the things a medical professional needs to know.


Must be able to analyze information and use logic to address work-related issues and problems.

Problem Solving

Use logic and reason to determine the best routes to solve issues as they arise.


Since one of your main functions will be to teach, you must be able to communicate effectively and pass on information. You with doctors, other historians, and teachers to keep them current on medical news, learn a ton about old medical practices, and work to advance the field with your knowledge of the past. You must be able to relay info effectively.


Working Conditions


Qualified medical historians outnumber the job openings for the profession by a comfortable margin. However, there are creative ways to use this training in a career, such as by working as journalists in the fields of science and medicine, or working for a historical organization.

The medical historian job often serves as a secondary career for someone who also pursues nursing or working as another kind of healthcare professional.

Research, teaching, or other applications of medical historian knowledge can be fit into many schedules as an additional profession, whether to boost income or follow a passion for the topic.



Salary Outlook