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200 Years of Medicine at Yale

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2009 - Spring


Cast your votes for the most significant events and personalities of the school’s first two centuries.

Nearly 200 years ago, in October 1810, the Connecticut legislature passed a bill establishing the Medical Institution of Yale College, a joint venture between Yale and the Connecticut State Medical Society. The resulting institution then consisted of four professorships appointed by the Corporation of Yale College after nomination by a joint committee of the corporation and the medical society. The fledgling medical school opened its doors in 1813 with those four professors, an adjunct professor and a student body of 37. The course of studies consisted of a few months of lectures in a classroom. Only three students would graduate with medical degrees in 1814.

Next year the medical school will mark the start of its third century with a series of special events and exhibits and the publication of a book looking at the personalities and forces that shaped medicine at Yale.

Yale Medicine would like readers’ opinions about those influences, as well as their recollections of medical school life over the last half century or so. Was Milton C. Winternitz, M.D., the so-called “steam engine in pants” who established the Yale system of medical education, the most dynamic of all deans? Was his educational philosophy the driving force behind the school’s extraordinary growth in reputation? Was Paul B. Beeson, M.D., the most exemplary clinician, or was it John P. Peters, M.D.?

We’d like to hear from you. Following are 10 questions about the history of the School of Medicine and your experiences here compiled by the editors of Yale Medicine. Please take a moment to detach or copy these pages, check off your favorites or nominate your write-in candidates—along with your comments and reminiscences—and mail them back to us at the address below. (There’s also a Web version of this survey at There are many significant events, findings and discoveries to choose from, but we ask that you select only one response per question, or write in your nominees for the “best of the Yale School of Medicine.”

So whether you feel that the neuro rotation in third year or that role in drag during the second-year show was the pinnacle of your medical school experience, take a few minutes to look back and share your memories, as well as your nominations for the medical school’s best of everything. YM

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