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JAMA 100 Years Ago
December 5, 2012


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2012;308(21):2180. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.3360

Immediately following the creation of the Council on Medical Education in 1904 as a permanent committee of the American Medical Association, that Council began an active campaign for higher standards of admission to medical colleges. The standard advocated was a reading knowledge of a modern language aside from English, preferably German or French, and at least a year's work devoted to thorough courses in physics, chemistry and biology, this to be required in addition to a standard four-year high-school education. In 1904 only four medical colleges in the United States were requiring anything in advance of the high-school education, but, since that time the number has increased until now forty-five medical schools1 are requiring these higher standards. Thirty of these schools are requiring two or more years of work in a college of liberal arts as a minimum, while fifteen are requiring but one year. Efforts were also made by the Council to encourage higher requirements of preliminary education by state licensing boards and as a result, ten states have now adopted the higher requirements. North Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, Colorado and Indiana have adopted a requirement of two years of college work as the minimum, while South Dakota, Connecticut, Kansas, Utah and New York have adopted one year. Last June the House of Delegates adopted a report instructing the Council on Medical Education to omit from Class A, after Jan.1, 1914, any medical college which did not require for admission of every student “at least one year of college credits in chemistry, biology, physics and a modern language, or two or more years in a college of liberal arts in addition to the accredited four-year high-school course.” Last week word was received2 that the New York Board of Regents had voted, to require after Jan. 1, 1913, as a minimum for entrance to medical schools in that state, in addition to a four-year high-school education a year's work in physics, biology and inorganic chemistry respectively. The campaign still goes on, but already the general adoption of at least one year's work in physics, chemistry and biology as the minimum standard of admission to medical schools in this country is assured within the next few years. With the adoption of this standard by the medical schools of the United States, preliminary requirements in this country will be on a par with those of other leading nations.

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