Print This Page
Share this page: More

School of Medicine History

First School of Medicine Class
First Medical Class - 1897

More than a century ago, Baltimore merchant Johns Hopkins left behind $7 million after his death, along with a mandate that would change the face of medical education throughout the United States and beyond. The money should go to build a hospital and a university of the highest stature in the heart of Baltimore, a place where all patients — rich or poor, black or white, male or female — could receive care.

From the institution’s beginnings in 1876, Hopkins leaders have understood that to practice medicine, young physicians need frontline training alongside veteran physicians whose knowledge and experience provides the best means of fighting disease.

Facts & Figures

  • Founded in 1893
  • Located in Baltimore, Md.
  • 2,448 full-time faculty
  • 1,249 part-time faculty
  • 9,504 employees
  • 482 medical students
  • 85 percent of students receive financial aid
  • Consistently ranked among the top medical schools in the country

Key Dates

1893: The School of Medicine is Founded

With the opening of the Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1889, followed four years later by the School of Medicine, Hopkins ushered in a new era marked by rigid entrance requirements for medical students, a vastly upgraded medical school curriculum with emphasis on the scientific method, the incorporation of bedside teaching and laboratory research as part of the instruction and integration of the School of Medicine with the Hospital through joint appointments. The new model also created standardized advanced training in specialized fields of medicine with the creation of the first house staff fellowships and post graduate internships.

Endowed through the philanthropy of Mary Elizabeth Garrett and the Women's Medical Fund, it was the first graduate school of medicine in the United States and the first to admit women on equal terms as men.

Learn more about how Hopkins revolutionized American medicine.

1897: First medical school class graduates
1905: The Four Founding Physicians
The Four Doctors

Every one of the "Big Four," as they are known at Hopkins, was a character, a larger-than-life personality: pathologist William Henry Welch, a stout bachelor whose favorite pastime was a week of swimming, carnival rides and five-dessert dinners in Atlantic City; surgeon William Stewart Halsted, whose severity with students masked an almost debilitating shyness; internist William Osler, king of pranks; and gynecologist Howard Kelly, snake collector and evangelical saver of souls.

As Hopkins' most famous medical school professors, they sat in John Singer Sargent's London studio in 1905 for a portrait that now hangs in the Welch Medical Library. Learn more about the "Big Four."

Remembering Osler: Ralph Hruban, Med '85, professor of pathology and oncology in the School of Medicine and an avid chronicler of Hopkins Medicine’s history, has posted a series of “Osler Minutes.” The vignettes feature quotes from Sir William Osler, Hopkins’ first physician in chief and director of the Department of Medicine. Considered perhaps the greatest physician of the 19th and early 20th centuries, Osler was renowned for his exceptional medical skill, wisdom, humanity and wit.

1910: The Flexner Report
Abraham Flexner

In 1910, Abraham Flexner, A&S 1886, wrote and published a report entitled "Medical Education in the United States and Canada" for the Carnegie Foundation. Today, the report is known as the Flexner Report and is credited with giving rise to modern medical education as it triggered much-needed reforms in the standards, organization and curriculum of North American medical schools.

Many of the colleges that were severely criticized by Flexner closed soon after the publication of the Flexner report; others initiated extensives revisions of their policies and curricula. Flexner found only five schools that he thought adequate, and he held up the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine as the model.

Flexner was a secondary school teacher and principal for 19 years in Louisville, Kentucky. He later completed graduate work at Harvard University and the University of Berlin and joined the research staff of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

1911: Art as Applied to Medicine

Art as Applied to Medicine, one of the most unlikely medical specialties, achieved its greatest national development at Johns Hopkins. Founded in 1911, the Hopkins Department of Art as Applied to Medicine is the oldest medical illustration program in the country.

Max Broedel, the father of Hopkins' medical art program and the father of modern medical illustration, was a mostly self-taught medical illustrator from Germany, who always aimed to draw a picture that would show more than any photograph could. This required an exquisite understanding of anatomy that could be gained only by dissection or watching surgery.

"Copying is not medical illustrating," Broedel said. "In a medical drawing, full comprehension must precede execution." Learn more about the history of Art as Applied to Medicine.

1929: Resources for a Medical Campus

The William H. Welch Medical Library opens its doors to jointly serve the Johns Hopkins Hospital, the School of Medicine and the School of Hygiene and Public Health.

1932: First Ph.D. student graduates
1956: The Age of Genetic Medicine

Victor McKusick, Med ’46, links single gene defect to symptoms of Marfans syndrome, ushering in the age of genetic medicine.

Return to Top