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Previously unpublished photos shot by LIFE magazine's W. Eugene Smith after shadowing a general practitioner for more than three weeks.

LIFEDoctor-Post.jpg

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Earlier today, LIFE magazine made some of Smith's previous unpublished photos available.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.) 

Presented by

Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Cryotherapy's Dubious Appeal

James Hamblin tries a questionable medical treatment.

Video

Confessions of Moms Around the World

In Europe, mothers get maternity leave, discounted daycare, and flexible working hours.

Video

How Do Trees Know When It's Spring?

The science behind beautiful seasonal blooming

More in Health

Just In