At the turn of the century medical education in the United States was chaotic. Medical colleges associated with universities were endeavoring to establish a resemblance to similar institutions abroad. Proprietary medical schools were competing voraciously for medical students. Here and there about the landscape were fly-by-night institutions and diploma mills, existing for the single purpose of defrauding medical students, the medical profession and the public as well.
From 1880 to 1903 the number of medical colleges increased in the United States from ninety to 154.1 The total number of students was more than doubled, moving from 11,826 to 27,615. During this period, when medical schools were increased by 133 per cent, the population of the country increased less than 50 per cent.
In these medical schools there was nothing resembling uniformity in the curriculum; the teaching of anatomy varied from 200 hours to 1,248, bacteriology from forty-five hours to
FISHBEIN M. MEDICAL EDUCATION—1905 TO 1940. JAMA. 1940;114(13):1147–1151. doi:10.1001/jama.1940.02810130009004
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