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The state of The System

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2002 - Autumn


In the Spring issue of Yale Medicine we promised to report on the state of the Yale System, the school’s eight-decade-old educational model and the subject of some debate earlier this year. As this issue of the magazine evolved over the summer, it became obvious that the topic was to play a starring role and figure prominently in the issue’s three feature articles as well as in our coverage of the June reunions. Wherever we turned, someone was talking about the Yale System.

“Everyone Loves The Yale System. So Why Can’t They All Agree?” details recent initiatives by Dean David A. Kessler, M.D., and others to increase support for teaching at the medical school and explains the controversy that erupted in March after a mailing from a group of students to medical school alumni regarding exam requirements. Among the voices heard were those of more than 500 alumni who wrote passionately about the issue of testing and in doing so wonderfully articulated what it means to become a doctor at Yale. Excerpts from those testimonials appear in “The Yale System Lives! Long Live the Yale System.”

Finally, we take a look at the man who set the Yale System in motion more than 75 years ago. Adapted from a chapter in a new history of the school by former Dean Gerard N. Burrow, M.D. ’58, HS ’66, “A Steam Engine in Pants” chronicles how Milton C. Winternitz, M.D., brought Yale back into the ranks of elite medical schools after a period of decline and gave birth to the Yale System in the process. It’s a fascinating story that sheds light on the origins of the current debate.