Danish author, literature, Danish doctor


The Danish-born physician Christian Fenger, whose career was recounted by William K. Beatty in the last issue of The Bridge, was one of many Scandinavian doctors in Chicago during the boom decades one hundred years ago. In a city bursting with immigrants, some Scandinavian doctors catered to their countrymen, and had in most cases to be content with modest financial and social rewards. Others, like Fenger, affiliated with hospitals and made strong contributions to medical science of the day. By today's standards, the practice of medicine was virtually unregulated; the state of the science was in transition as research and improved technology gave patients a better chance of surviving a serious illness and its treatment. In small communities the local doctor had the shaman's power to command respect, even if he was often powerless in the face of medical complications. In a city like Chicago , on the other hand, an alert citizen could compare the success rates of competing doctors and choose the most promising practitioner. For better or for worse, doctors were observed closely and their reputations spread far and wide.