My paper reflects upon the questionable decisions of American physicians during the Progressive Era. Since not everyone may understand medical beneficence, I began my essay by explaining how education fostered the “doctor knows best” mentality before delving into the more complex topics of racism, political implications, and public health. While reexamining Supreme Court cases of racism and eugenics, I surprised myself by sympathizing with both the perceived “good” and “bad” groups—the millions of patients who were wronged by doctors and researchers, and the criticized doctors who were trained in such racially-charged social and professional environments. Rather than choosing sides like I thought I would, I found myself better understanding the degree to which context can affect action. This emotional connection to the subject matter was both a challenge and inspiration for me, as it contrasted my expectations and prompted me to write about the lesser-known details behind the nation’s public health controversies. My ultimate goal was to make a statement that resonates with my readers and leaves them with a more rounded view of the complexity of America’s medical history.

JAMIE TAM  is a behavior and health major from Parsippany, NJ. A member of BU’s Sargent College and the class of 2017, she is studying to become an occupational therapist. She dedicates this paper to her WR 100 professor, Melanie Smith, for her tremendous encouragement and guidance during the writing process. She would also like to thank Sarah Norman, Joe Gillespie, Nicole Colello-Kim, Christine Mortenson, Julianne Sanchez, and Jennifer Frantz for the insight and instruction that has helped shape her writing throughout the years.