What Health Care Looked Like: The Challenges of a Rural Physician

Previously unpublished photos shot by LIFE magazine's W. Eugene Smith after shadowing a general practitioner for more than three weeks.

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In 1948, LIFE magazine photographer W. Eugene Smith spent more than three weeks in Kremmling, Colorado, shadowing general practitioner Ernest Ceriani as he worked with patients on all manner of ailments. The resulting images -- powerful and poignant -- became an instant classic, and Smith was quickly anointed one of the masters of the photoessay. For the first time ever, thanks to Smith's work, many viewers were given an intimate look at the emotional and physical challenges faced by rural physicians on a daily basis.

Earlier today, LIFE magazine made some of Smith's previous unpublished photos available. (During his time with Ceriani, Smith shot so many images that most were tossed to the cutting-room floor when the series, "Country Doctor," was being assembled.) 

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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