Medical school marks 100th class
History highlights show changes in med school
The journey that transforms anxious and eager minds into compassionate,
healing professionals began Aug. 6 for the 175 new KU medical students
who form the 100th class of the KU School of Medicine.
Times have changed. Admissions, curriculum and technology have changed.
But some things remain the same today as they did 100 years ago.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Kansas City, Kan., the Kansas
City Medical College and the Medico-Chirurgical College merged in 1905
to form the KU School of Medicine. Of the original 96 students, all were
white and only a handful were women. Fifty-six graduated one year later
because they had met all requirements.
Students needed a high school education and “good moral character”
to apply the first year.
“Today, students who are admitted meet high academic standards and
have real-world experience in a medical setting,” said Mark Meyer,
associate dean for student affairs at the School of Medicine. “Only
one in seven applicants was accepted to our program this year.”
The first students began their medical education in the anatomy lab.
Dissecting a human body helped students change their thinking about life
by seeing death up close.
Freshmen often smelled “unusual” because of the preservative,
formalin, and were sometimes ostracized in their living communities.
“Indeed, we were unpopular everywhere, for we left a trail of formalin
behind us,” according to a student quoted in the 1905 Jayhawker
When big-city attractions began luring Kansas’ doctors away from
rural America, the School of Medicine encouraged students to return to
their rural roots through two programs. Fourth-year medical students completed
a rotation in rural Kansas through the Rural Preceptor Program, a tradition
that continues today. In addition, the Kansas Legislature now finances
30 full scholarships each year through the Medical Student Loan Program.
In return for tuition, students agree to work in a rural medical practice
for four years after graduation.
In the 1970s, a second campus was opened in Wichita, where approximately
60 third- and fourth-year medical students go for their last two years
Despite the changes, the KU Medical School has remained true to its vision
and mission “to enhance the quality of life and serve our community
through the discovery of knowledge, the education of health professionals
and improving the health of the public.”