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A History of Yale’s School of Medicine

A History of Yale’s School of Medicine: Passing Torches to Others

Copyright Date: 2002
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    A History of Yale’s School of Medicine
    Book Description:

    This fascinating book tells the story of the Yale University School of Medicine, tracing its history from its origins in 1810 (when it had four professors and 37 students) to its present status as one of the world's outstanding medical schools. Written by a former dean of the medical school, the book focuses on the important relationship of the medical school to the university, which has long operated under the precept that one should heal the body as well as the soul.Dr. Gerard Burrow recounts events surrounding the beginnings of the medical school, the very perilous times it experienced in the middle and late nineteenth century, and its revitalization, rapid growth, and evolution throughout the twentieth century. He describes the colorful individuals involved with the school and shows how social upheavals-wars, the Depression, boom periods, social activism, and the like-affected the school. The picture he paints is that of an institution that was at times unmanageable and under-funded, that often had troubled relationships with the New Haven community and its major hospital, but that managed to triumph over these difficulties and flourish. Today Yale University School of Medicine is a center for excellence. Dr. Burrow draws on the themes recurrent in its rich past to offer suggestions about its future.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13288-5
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xvi)
    (pp. 1-6)

    Several important themes have tended to recur throughout the rich history of the Yale University School of Medicine since it was chartered as the Medical Institution of Yale College nearly two hundred years ago, in 1810. First and foremost among these themes has been the close relationship between the university and the medical school from its inception. Most medical schools in the United States were founded as private proprietary schools, which were subsequently subsumed by a university; Cooper Medical College, for example, became the Stanford University School of Medicine. The Medical Institution, in contrast, was founded by the Yale Corporation....

    (pp. 7-34)

    More than one hundred years passed between the Connecticut Legislature’s act of 1701 establishing a Collegiate School where “youth may be instructed in the Arts and Sciences” and the act creating the Medical Institution of Yale College, approved by the General Assembly at its October session in 1810.¹ Graduates of Yale College, however, had been involved in the practice of medicine long before the founding of the medical school.² At least 224 Yale graduates, or about 10 percent of those awarded bachelor of arts degrees, practiced medicine during the eighteenth century. These rates are comparable to the proportion of Yale...

  7. 3 HARD TIMES: The Dark Years
    (pp. 35-64)

    Nathan Smith’s death in 1829 meant a great loss to the young Medical Institution of Yale College. His reputation as a clinician in conjunction with Benjamin Silliman’s reputation as a scientist had been responsible for much of the school’s initial success. Silliman now replaced Smith as the driving force behind the Medical Institution. From a pragmatic point of view, Smith had represented one-fifth of the medical faculty, holding the chairs in both medicine and surgery. To replace him Eli Ives was appointed professor of the theory and practice of medicine and Thomas Hubbard, a rural practitioner, became professor of surgery....

    (pp. 65-93)

    During an otherwise uneventful Yale Corporation meeting on March 21, 1910, two items of business shaped the future success of the medical school. “The Secretary read the confidential report prepared by Dr. Abraham Flexner on the condition of Yale Medical School,”¹ and later in the meeting “the President spoke of possible changes in the scope of Professor Smith’s work in the medical school, but no formal action was taken.”²

    Flexner’s report had been prompted by growing discontent with medical education amid a proliferation of proprietary schools across the country. The Council on Medical Education of the American Medical Association approached...

  9. 5 “A STEAM ENGINE IN PANTS”: The Boom Years
    (pp. 94-137)

    At a meeting of the Faculty of the Yale Medical School held on May 7, 1920, the following action was taken for transmission to the Corporation. Voted to nominate Professor Milton Charles Winternitz to the Corporation as Dean of the medical school for a period of five years.”¹ The new dean was a man who evoked strong emotions. He was described by his friends and colleagues as a “vital and vivid man, an intense fountainhead of energy, an inexhaustible generator of ideas and constant stimulator of the imagination.” Others, while acknowledging his accomplishments, portrayed him as a “martinet,” “a terrible...

  10. 6 THE BUBBLE BURSTS: The Depression Years
    (pp. 138-152)

    The new dean, Stanhope Bayne-Jones, had been a student and later colleague of Winternitz’s at Johns Hopkins. His major interest was in bacteriology, and he happily accepted an offer to head his own Department of Bacteriology at the new medical school in Rochester. In 1932 Stanhope Bayne-Jones, by then dean at Rochester, was recruited to Yale, primarily to be master of Trumbull College and secondarily to be professor of bacteriology and immunology. President Angell was eager to appoint a scientist as master of one of the new residential colleges funded by the Sterling bequest. In May 1930 Winternitz had written...

    (pp. 153-167)

    After Alan Gregg declined the offer to succeed Bayne-Jones as dean in 1940, the search committee was unable to identify a candidate to whom it could unhesitatingly commit the school’s destinies. It recommended that Francis Gilman Blake, the chairman of medicine, be appointed acting dean for the 1940–1941 academic year. Blake was willing but wanted to remain chairman of medicine, and he asked for assistance in carrying out his duties as acting dean. George H. Smith, chairman of the Department of Bacteriology and editor of theYale Journal of Biology and Medicine,was appointed assistant dean, with responsibility for...

    (pp. 168-178)

    During the meeting of the Board of Permanent Officers at which Blake’s resignation was announced, President Seymour said that he and division director George Darling had conferred with several members of the board and found that C. N. H. (Hugh) Long, chairman of physiological chemistry, would be favored as the internal candidate. A written ballot was held at the meeting, and Long was unanimously elected dean of the Yale University School of Medicine.

    The major problem facing Long as he assumed the deanship was insufficient funds, a problem that had plagued the medical school since its inception. One of the...

    (pp. 179-200)

    The new dean, appointed in 1952, was not a current faculty member but, perhaps significantly, a full-time administrator. He was Vernon W. Lippard (figure 30), a Massachusetts native who had taken the five-year combined medical course in the Sheffield Scientific School, receiving his M.D. degree cum laude in 1929. One of five students elected to membership in the medical honor society, Alpha Omega Alpha, he was also awarded the Parker Prize, given annually to the graduating student “who has shown the best qualifications for a successful practitioner.” During his final year the first issue of theYale Journal of Biology...

  14. 10 SOCIAL UNREST: The Turbulent Years
    (pp. 201-217)

    As Vernon Lippard prepared to step aside in 1967 after fifteen years as dean of the medical school, he expressed concern about medical education. The ready availability of research funds and the ensuing dependence on them had diverted faculty attention from teaching. Increasing interest in social-action projects, while important, threatened to divert attention even further from educational goals. What Lippard could not realize at the time was that the medical students themselves would divert their attention from educational pursuits to become heavily involved in community social-action projects and in the governance of the medical school.

    Kingman Brewster asked Paul Beeson...

    (pp. 218-238)

    Ever since Nathan Smith was appointed as the very first professor of the theory and practice of physic in 1813, Yale’s Department of Medicine has been propelled by a remarkable cast of faculty members. Smith, who was also responsible for lectures in surgery and in obstetrics and gynecology,¹ was revered as a teacher, in part because he lectured on his cases, making his points with models and illustrations and allowing students to question him, rather than following the traditional didactic manner. Smith emphasized moderation in therapeutics, seldom recommending bleeding, preferring cleanliness and rest, and prescribing drugs only when he had...

    (pp. 239-255)

    Creation of the Anna R. Lauder Chair of Public Health with a gift of $500,000 from the Lauder bequest in 1915 resulted in the establishment of Yale’s Department of Public Health. George Blumer had chaired a university committee soon after his arrival in 1906 to consider establishing a department or school to provide education in working with public-health bureaus and philanthropic or charitable organizations.¹ Much of the impetus for the committee had come from Irving Fisher, a political economist at Yale, who was interested in the economic impact of disease on society. He felt that Yale was well positioned to...

    (pp. 256-281)

    Dating back to the nineteenth century, the relationship between the medical school and the hospital has been one of mutual, although frequently strained, interdependence. Access to patients would be crucial to the success of the new Medical Institution of Yale College, “because theory without practice in this, as well as everything else, is comparatively of little use.”¹ Of the ten incorporators who proposed the State Hospital in 1826, eight were physicians, including four professors at the Medical Institution: Nathan Smith, Eli Ives, Jonathan Knight, and Thomas Hubbard. The fifth Yale representative, Benjamin Silliman, had received an honorary M.D. degree from...

  18. 14 EPILOGUE
    (pp. 282-296)

    Although this account of the Yale University School of Medicine ends with Dean Fritz Redlich and the brief tenure of Dean Lewis Thomas, an understanding of its fortunes at the time of Yale’s tercentenary allows the story to be put in context. It is generally recognized as one of the world’s great medical schools. But what in particular makes it a preeminent medical institution? With some understanding of Yale’s history, can the medical school’s future be divined? Its future is closely associated with both the university and the hospital, but there are strong outside determinants, too. The direction of health...

  19. NOTES
    (pp. 297-344)
    (pp. 345-356)
  21. INDEX
    (pp. 357-368)