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Sept 7, 1963

House Officer Training—Higher Education or Vocational Apprenticeship?

Author Affiliations


Associate Professor of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

JAMA. 1963;185(10):764-768. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.03060100044015

"TO KNOW THE PAST is to predict the future." Macaulay, the great historian, gave this advice. It is applicable to many areas of human endeavor. Medical education is no exception.

Perhaps then, to gain perspective regarding our subject, several historical facts should be recalled and put on the table for consideration. At the same time, we shall need to define terms. Vocational training is defined as "pursuit of a regular employment or occupation; the act, process or method of directing growth; instructing, educating, as by preceptorship." ' Higher education is defined as "commonly the business of a university."1

University business has been defined in many ways. Flexner2 said that the business of a university is "to conserve knowledge and ideas." Newman,3 in his magnificent discourse, The Idea of a University, states that "the primary business of a university is neither to inculcate virtue nor to prepare for a vocation, but to train the mind." It will be wise to use these definitions given by Webster, Flexner, and Newman from now on in considering our subject.