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November 5, 1982

Some Perturbations in Medicine

Author Affiliations

From the JAMA Department of Scientific Affairs.

JAMA. 1982;248(17):2098-2101. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330170014005

The Appearance of Full-time Professors 

JAMA:  How did US academic medicine develop?

Petersdorf:  I would like to trace the development of modern academic medicine in the United States from the time when full-time professors of medicine in this country began to appear: 1900 to 1930. The first departments of medicine with a full-time professor were established at The Johns Hopkins, Columbia, and, later, at Cornell and Barnes Hospitals, and, of course, the "Big Three in Boston": The Massachusetts General Hospital, the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, and the Boston City Hospital. These early departments of medicine involved only a handful of people. There was usually one professor, and he had a number of assistants who would work primarily on his research interests and help to care for his patients.The major change that differentiated these professors from their predecessors in medical schools was that they were not primarily in private practice.