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November 15, 1965

Beginnings of Medical Education in Philadelphia, 1765-1776

Author Affiliations

From the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia.

JAMA. 1965;194(7):719-721. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090200027006

In 1765, when formal medical education began in the American colonies, Philadelphia was the largest city in Britain's North American territories and was foremost in cultural development among all the towns that had sprung up along the Atlantic seaboard. The College of Philadelphia (later to become the University of Pennsylvania), the Library Company, and the Pennsylvania Hospital had been flourishing for more than a decade. (An extended treatment of this subject, with full bibliography, has recently been published.1)

In this up-and-coming city of 25,000 people, about 30 men, we may estimate, were practising medicine. About half of these, 13 to be precise, are known to us by name and by their reputations for professional skill and public spirit or for social standing. Eight of these 13 had studied medicine in Britain or on the continent of Europe. The other five were trained only by apprenticeship to local physicians. We

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