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Medical Education

The major features of contemporary medical schools took shape in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. What occurred at that time thoroughly transformed medical education. Subsequent developments rarely had the same far-reaching effects as the changes put in place from the 1870s through the 1920s.

Early Medical Schools

Before the 1870s, most U.S. medical schools supplied only part of the education necessary to be a competent physician. The typical curriculum featured one year of courses in six to eight subjects. The instruction was didactic. A lecturer occasionally demonstrated procedures for the class to watch, but few instructors let their pupils carry out the tasks. Students spent little, if any, time in laboratories or with patients. To learn by doing required securing an apprenticeship, summer ...

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