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JAMA 100 Years Ago
August 13, 2003


Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2003;290(6):830. doi:10.1001/jama.290.6.830-a

An eminent educator, President Jordan1 of Leland Stanford University, in a commencement address, delivered at the Cooper Medical College, San Francisco, gives his views regarding the future of medical education in America. He says the two types of medical colleges in the future will be: One, the present type of which is the medical department of the Michigan University, the aim of which is to elevate the profession in the aggregate, taking men as they are, demanding not excessive, but respectable, preliminary requirements, and maintaining no standard impracticable for the average man, but turning out as well-qualified physicians as the material will allow. The other, the existing type of which is the Johns Hopkins School, will demand the highest preliminary culture and send out only a limited number of the very best [women and men]* into the profession. The former will be the type toward which he thinks the state universities will tend, while a few highly endowed private institutions will have the highest standard, and be special centers of medical science and research. "The practical evolution of the matter," he says, "will be this: The medical school for the exceptional student will require a college course of science with pathology and chemistry as the leading subjects; other sciences, with German and French, being necessary factors. The state medical colleges and those of similar purposes will content themselves with a minimum of two years of college work, along semiprofessional lines, the preparatory medical course." It will be seen from this that Professor Jordan takes no apparent account of the value of a classical education, the sciences in modern languages being, in his forecast, the essentials that will be demanded. Whether this prophecy will be entirely realized is perhaps a little open to question and it may be that he underestimates the value of the preparatory medical course and the quality of those who will choose it. There are now, and always will be, some institutions that will demand the fullest culture as preparatory to professional studies, and probably in the near future such institutions will grant degrees that will be more highly valued, if not nominally more distinguished, than those of the average school.

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