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JAMA 100 Years Ago
January 26, 2011

EXCEPTIONAL MEN AND HIGHER STANDARDS OF MEDICAL EDUCATION

JAMA. 2011;305(4):415. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1911

In the discussion of educational standards, references are frequently made to physicians who have reached distinction, although they received their education at a time when lower standards prevailed. It is sometimes argued that the adoption of higher standards of preliminary education would prevent such men from studying medicine. Such exceptional men, however, were almost bound to succeed under any circumstances, and the fact is apparently overlooked that probably they succeeded in spite of their inferior advantages. How many more physicians of such marked success would there be, it may be asked, had the medical colleges of twenty or more years ago held to higher standards of admission and possessed better teachers, better-equipped laboratories and more ample clinical facilities? Even so, however, the graduate in medicine of twenty years ago was not so heavily handicapped as the graduate of to-day with the same inferior equipment, for the disparity between their attainments and the summit of medical knowledge was far less twenty years ago than it is to-day. Of course, at that time, the preliminary requirements which are exacted to-day were not necessary—scarcely possible.

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