University of Virginia Library


From the foregoing announcement it will be seen that by the
organization of the University, provision is made for teaching all
the branches of Medical Science.

A joint committee of the two houses of the Legislative Assembly,
appointed to investigate the affairs of the University, having
had their attention directed to the peculiar features of this school,
appended to their Report a notice of the advantages resulting from
the direct connection of a Medical School with a general University,
from which the following statement is extracted.

1. Length of Session.—Nearly all the medical schools of this
country are located in our cities or larger towns, and have only a
nominal connection with the colleges from which they borrow their
names and chartered privileges. In these schools the usual length
of a term of instruction by courses of lectures is four months.
In order to embrace all the important branches of Medical Science
in a course of instruction compressed into so short a term, it is
found necessary to employ the services of six or seven Professors,
who deliver six lectures a day. By this arrangement the students,
if they attend all the lectures, are required to spend nearly the


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whole of the day in listening to lectures delivered in rapid succession,
and treating of diverse topics. None but those who have had personal
experience in this matter, can fully appreciate the troubles
and difficulties which beset a tyro at the commencement of his
attendance upon lectures, the fatigue of body and perplexity of
mind which he inevitably experiences in his painful efforts to hear
every lecture, and master every subject. In attempting, after the
close of the lectures for the day, to bring in review the topics discussed
by his teachers, he finds links in the chain here and there
broken, he flies from one subject of thought to another, without
adequately mastering any, and confounded by their number and
the utter impossibility of keeping pace in his private reading at
night with the lectures of six Professors, he despairs of doing more
than retaining such portion of the facts stated in the lectures as may
happen to make the strongest impression on his mind.

In the Medical Department of this institution, the length of the
session, which is nine months, enables three Professors to perform
all the duties which are elsewhere assigned to six. The students
attend but two lectures a day, and thus have ample time for private
reading and for pursuing their Anatomical dissections.

2. System of Daily Examinations.—Immediately before each
lecture, the students in every school of the University are subjected
to a rigid examination on the subject of the preceding lecture, or
on portions of some approved text-book.

Experience has shown this to be an almost necessary adjunct to
the system of teaching by lectures, and it is felt to be of such importance
that the students in other Medical Schools into which its
introduction to any adequate extent is precluded by want of
time, resort to the expedient of employing the services of private
instructers by whom they may be examined at night on the topics
discussed each day in the lecture-room. The fee paid by the
students for this necessary but extra-collegiate instruction, varies
from $30 to $50 in each case for the four months term of lectures,
and is usually about $100 for the whole year. These fees are
often received by the Professors themselves, in addition to the usual
collegiate fees.

The enactments of the Visiters of the University prescribe that
no Professor shall engage in pursuits of emolument unconnected
with the service of the University, or shall receive from the
members of his class any compensation in addition to that provided
for by the laws. They further require every Professor to reside
within the precincts, both for the purpose of assisting to enforce
the discipline of the college and of being accessible to the students
who may seek assistance in their private hours of study. These
students, then, enjoy here advantages which elsewhere are purchased
at a high price over and above the heavy necessary collegiate

3. Order of Studies.—All Medical Colleges aim to place Medical


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education on a scientific basis. Indeed, if the practice of the
healing art does not depend on general principles, embodied in
the fundamental sciences of Anatomy, Chemistry, Physiology, Pathology,
and Therapeutics, these branches of Medical Science had
as well be altogether omitted in a course of professional education.
If, however, it does so depend, the propriety and necessity of laying
a good foundation before the superstructure can be reared, are
too obvious to need illustration. This cannot be done in city
schools, in which, as above stated, the lectures on the different
branches of medicine are carried on simultaneously. This system
takes for granted that the students have "read," as it is termed,
with a private practitioner of medicine for a year at least before he
commences his attendance on lectures. This, however, is not
always the case, and when it occurs is not always an advantage;
for it is to be observed that the fundamental branches of Medical
Science are precisely those which demand for their illustration the
apparatus only to be found within the walls of colleges.

It is one of the peculiar advantages of the University Medical
School, that it unites, as may have been inferred from the preceding
remarks, the plan of instruction by private pupilage with that
of public lectures, while the length of the session puts it in the
power of the Professors to pursue a philosophical order of studies,
the students having an opportunity of mastering the elementary
branches before their attention is directed to their practical applications.

4. Conditions of Graduation.—The regulations for graduation
of the Medical schools in cities require that the student shall have
attended two full courses of Medical lectures, and shall have been
the private pupil for a year or two of a respectable practitioner of
medicine. The latter part of this requisition is, however, rarely
insisted upon, although, as above stated, the fact of such previous
study is taken for granted.

At the University a consecutive course of nine months being
more than equivalent to two courses in the city schools in respect
to the time employed and the advantageous distribution of the
subjects of study, the students are permitted to take their diploma
at the end of one session, if they show themselves worthy. The
rigidness of the examinations deters the majority of the class from
making the trial, and none but the perseveringly diligent attain
the honor, which is here truly a testimonial of attainments.

5. Location in a Village.—This has been urged as an objection,
while in point of fact it is the circumstance on which most of
the advantages just cited depend. A residence in a country village
is, moreover, free in a large degree from the objections that apply
to a city in view of the temptations to extravagance and dissipation
in its worst forms.

The importance of the advantages attributed in the foregoing
notice to the Medical Department of this Institution has been


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tested by the experience of near twenty years, during which time
about one thousand medical students have been educated.

6. It will be noticed that those students who desire to take
their diploma at a city school will yet find an advantage in
attending the first course in an institution organized on the plan
of the Medical Department of the University, by which they
avoid the expense of employing a private instructer, whose other
avocations may and commonly do disqualify him for the proper
discharge of his duties as a teacher.