Modernizing the American medical school, 1893-1940: architecture, pedagogy, professionalization, and philanthropy
Carroll, Katherine L.
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At the end of the nineteenth century, a revolution occurred in American medical education as physicians embraced scientific medicine and experiential learning. The new curriculum required the total redesign of the medical school. Drawing on archival sources, this dissertation provides the first comprehensive examination of medical school architecture and considers the transformative years 1893-1940. Heretofore research on medical architecture has focused on spaces for patient care. An analysis of the buildings for medical training reveals a new set of cultural discourses. The dissertation centers on eight case studies representing a diversity of locations, funding, reputations, and student populations, specifically Johns Hopkins Medical School, Harvard Medical School, University of Nebraska College of Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, Syracuse University College of Medicine, and Howard University College of Medicine. At the most basic level, this investigation traces what was built. The dissertation goes on to argue, however, that the varied forms of the buildings promoted alternate conceptions of modem medicine; the buildings themselves helped to define modem science for their occupants. What is more, the medical schools and their dormitories shaped the professional identities of physicians, and the medical schools marketed modem medicine to members ofthe non-medical community. Finally, the dissertation asserts that funding influenced architectural developments. A number of private and public sources supported medical education construction, but only the General Education Board (GEB) funded by John D. Rockefeller, Sr., had a national impact on medical school design. Under the leadership of Abraham Flexner, the GEB encouraged a particular building type and promoted the rise of Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge and its successors as the premier architectural firm specializing in medical schools in this period. This dissertation proposes new lenses through which to analyze educational architecture. It makes clear that professional identities can form long before employers and employees enter the workplace, and it underscores the need to investigate philanthropic organizations without codified architectural programs for their impact on the built environment.
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