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December 7, 1963

Medical Education and the Rise of Hospitals: I. The Eighteenth Century

JAMA. 1963;186(10):938-942. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.63710100022015

THE 18TH CENTURY has been called the Age of Hospitals in Britain and her colonies, an appellation certainly justified by numbers alone, for it has been estimated that 46 were organized during this period.2 The century was also characterized by an empirical attitude among British physicians and surgeons who had been influenced by the scientific revolution of the preceding century. These phenomena interacted and influenced the form of medical education in Britain and her American colonies.

The trends of British economic, political, and social life which led to the creation of institutions for the sick poor have been skillfully elucidated by George Rosen.3 The "fashion of benevolence," a sense of responsibility toward the less fortunate in society, was part of the moral climate of the British aristocracy and intelligentsia. Economic well-being provided the means whereby the voluntary hospital movement flourished, while the mercantilist policy designed to increase the