Dr. Melvin N. Newquist received his AB, BSC, and MD degrees at the University of Nebraska and served his internship at the University of Nebraska Hospitals. He practiced medicine in Bloomfield, Nebraska from 1925 to 1929, and in 1930 came to Chicago for postgraduate work in surgery.
In May 1931 Dr,. Newquist and Earl W. Williamson, MD were employed by the American College of Surgeons to survey industrial and other types of clinics to ascertain which ones met American College of Surgeons (ACS) standards. The Minimum Standard for Industrial Medicine and Traumatic Surgery was established by the ACS Board on Traumatic Surgery the year before. The Board on Traumatic Surgery was established in 1927, partly as a result of appeals for aid and advice from surgeons appointed by state legislatures working on changes in state Workmen’s Compensations Laws. Frederick Besley. MD, FACS [See Highlights of March 2007] and Bowman Crowell, MD, were appointed Chairman and Secretary of this Board. In 1928, ACS founder Franklin H. Martin, MD, FACS, outlined a minimum standard for the qualification of physicians whom the Board would consider capable of practicing efficient Traumatic Surgery. By 1931 the list numbered over 1000 candidates.
Drs. Newquist and Williamson surveyed over 1,600 medical services in industry throughout the 1930s, with Dr. Newquist doing the larger part of them, and of these 843, over half, were approved on the basis of the minimum standard. He was particularly interested in compensation insurance laws and their practical application to the workers injured. He was responsible for the survey--as requested by the West Virginia Director of Health--of the conditions that prevailed in that state in relation to the care of the injured workers in mines and in industry.
Dr. Newquist resigned his position as ACS Assistant Director of the Industrial Medicine Department in October of 1939 to become Medical Director of Texaco. In response to Dr. Crowell’s great regret in losing him, Newquist replied that it had been an extreme pleasure to work with the College and that he would be glad to aid and collaborate with the College in any way he could whenever opportunity presented itself in the future.
By the time he left ACS, industrial organizations were considering it an honor to have met the minimum standard of the College. They were also appreciative of the assistance the College could give in organizing a better medical and surgical service for their employees. In 1945-46, Dr. Newquist served as President of the American Association of Industrial Physicians and Surgeons and became a Fellow of the ACS in 1951. He later served as Associate Clinical Professor in Industrial Medicine at New York University and Visiting Lecturer in Industrial Hygiene at the Harvard School of Public Health. His Fellowship entry last appeared in the Yearbook of the American College of Surgeons in 1971.
For more information on Dr. Melvin Newquist and the activities of the ACS Department of Industrial Medicine, visit the ACS Archives.