wwi medicine and war
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Critical thinking questions

  1. In what ways did the field of medicine advance during World War I? How did it become more scientific?
  2. Why would war have caused an increase in medical innovations? How might these advancements have benefited both soldiers and the American public?
  3. Can you identify any examples of innovative medical practices that are being used today? How do you think the advancements made during World War I helped the field of medicine get to where it is now?

Take a closer look

Drawing of wounded WWI soldiers

This painting depicts wounded soldiers being moved off the battlefield. Notice the soldier walking with assistance in the foreground, the bandaged man on the stretcher, and the fallen on the ground.

Look closely at the injured soldiers. Can you tell if they have already received any first aid? How? Where do you think these soldiers are being taken?

WWI medical belt

New understandings about germ theory changed how injured soldiers were treated on the battlefield. This medical belt included pockets for sterile dressing packets, iodine swabs, and antiseptic gauze.

How would having sterile equipment and antiseptics help save soldiers’ lives?

WWI draftee medical exam

After the United States entered the war, the military evaluated the mental and physical condition of over 4.7 million draftees and volunteers.

Look closely at the items shown in this image. Name the medical tools that look familiar. What sort of information might have been gathered during these examinations?

Read more

Explore online

Medicine in World War I (Yale University Library) – Explores medicine, surgery and nursing during the war.