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Compiling a ranking of the most influential physicians throughout history is a perilous undertaking that has fueled animated discussions between Medscape editors and advisors. Influence is a tricky thing to gauge, after all, and depends entirely on one's viewpoint, background, location, and specialty. And "history" is a rather long timeframe. Some prickly questions were raised along the way: What constitutes influence? How do we measure it? How do we account for ethnic and gender centricity? What about complementary or alternative areas of medicine? How about those excluded from traditional historical discourse? And the list goes on.
With all of that said, in this first part of a four-part series, we've endeavored to identify the giants of medicine who we feel stand apart due to the extent of their achievements and their impact on the development of medical practice. As a starting point, we polled Medscape advisors for their suggestions, to which we added some of our own thoughts. While the result may not be entirely scientific in its methodology, we hope that you will enjoy it, and we look forward to your nominations and feedback in a Medscape-wide survey which will follow the publication of the final slideshow.