When one of Baltimore's premier institutions, the Johns Hopkins University Medical School, celebrated its 100th anniversary last week, its faculty and students could take special pride in the fact that after a century, the school is still on the cutting edge of medical education and research.
Hopkins was the first medical school in the country to require its students to get part of their training from hands-on experience working with patients.
It was the first school to systematize the hospital residency program, where students could learn from patients as well as the doctors who treated them. It was also the first to require incoming students to have an undergraduate degree.
Not the least of its innovations was the fact that from the beginning the school accepted women students on equal terms with men -- the result of terms insisted on by Mary Garrett, a daughter of one of the founding trustees of Johns Hopkins University whose financial assistance was essential to the opening of the medical school.
The school encouraged faculty members to conduct research to increase medical science's understanding of human diseases and their cures. It drew experienced physicians from around the country and produced a string of breakthroughs that now form the basis for the way medicine is practiced all over the world. Hopkins scientists, for example, were the first to wear rubber gloves to control infections in the operating room. They also discovered adrenalin, purified insulin, pioneered heart surgery and developed techniques for cardiopulmonary resuscitation that have resulted in the saving of thousands of lives each year.
For years Hopkins was noted for training specialists in every field of medical science. It still has a reputation for producing physicians who develop the treatments and techniques other doctors use in their practices. Now, with the increasing shortage of general practitioners, the medical school is also beginning to pay more attention to preparing physicians to work in rural clinics and urban hospital settings as family practitioners, general internists and pediatricians.
With health care at the top of the Clinton administration's agenda, the Hopkins medical school will play a crucial role in training a new generation of physicians and medical researchers to lead the next great wave of reform in American medicine. There is every reason to believe that the Johns Hopkins University Medical School is poised to carry on the magnificent tradition of its first 100 years well into the next millennium.