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JAMA 100 Years Ago
January 4, 2012

A PSYCHIATRIC OPPORTUNITY

JAMA. 2012;307(1):14. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1894

At a recent meeting of the Board of Trustees of Bellevue Hospital, New York, a long-discussed amalgamation was finally effected, whereby the alcoholic, prison and psychopathic wards were made an administrative unit, under the care of the resident alienist of the hospital. This movement is in accordance with the best teachings of modern neurology and psychiatry, and in the formation of such an administrative unit the trustees are showing a clear-headed appreciation of modern trends in the care of this class of patients. These patients belong together; their requirements are such that the neurologic and mental sides of the problem stand out in sharp relief on a background of surgery or internal medicine. With this amalgamation of services the necessity for more hospital interns is made evident, and Bellevue now offers a special opportunity for four resident interns. Such an internship should appeal to hospital graduates who are seeking advanced work in medicine. Just how important the service is, becomes apparent when one reads in the yearly reports that over 10,000 patients enter the Bellevue alcoholic and prison wards yearly, and that there are at least 4,000 additional admissions a year to the psychopathic wards. It is only a short time since the trustees enlarged the psychopathic wards by the erection of separate wards for disturbed patients. The enlargement of the staff of interns, the development of an autonomous service, with resident interns continuously on service, is one of the most important advances in hospital administration in the City of New York, and the gain to the individual student of medicine, who seeks a thorough grounding in this very important branch of medicine, is great. No such opportunity for the study of neurologic and psychiatric material can be found elsewhere. Furthermore, the numerous medical and surgical complications, the rarer forms of poisoning, suicidal and homicidal accidents, offer ample occasion for thorough preparation in internal medicine as well as in advanced psychiatry, and the prison wards enlarge the medicolegal horizon of the man anxious to improve his chances of getting acquainted with world-wide questions.

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