About the School of Medicine
The School of Medicine of Meharry Medical College pledges to offer a unique, quality, health science education to students of diverse origins, especially African Americans, with emphasis on addressing underserved populations. In addition, the School of Medicine will teach and monitor excellence in the delivery of primary or holistic care, provide a foundation for life-long learning, and conduct research relevant to the health of the disadvantaged.
Although a historically Black medical college, Meharry Medical College reflects the diversity of our nation with student-body representation from the Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian, and Native-American communities. The School of Medicine is proud to support the College’s mission statement by training new generations of health care professionals and serving as a national leader in community-based health care that focuses on patient care, AIDS research, public health, and medical education. We must persist in closing the gap in health disparities.
Meharry Medical College and The School of Medicine both began as a promise kept by Samuel Meharry in response to a kindness extended to him one rainy night in the 1820s. Meharrians know this account as The Salt Wagon Story.
Today, nearly 5,000 students apply for the 105 slots available for first-year medical students. While Meharry’s clinics provide $35 million in uncompensated care to patients each year, our faculty and students also actively serve the community through many programs involving mentoring, counseling, and volunteer work.
In 1876, the Meharry Medical Department of Central Tennessee College admitted its first 11 students. Two faculty members, Dr. William J. Snead and Dr. George W. Hubbard, taught classes in the basement of Clark Memorial United Methodist Church. Within ten years, Meharry added programs for nurses and dentists and distinguished itself as the medical institution for people of color.
A few important milestones from this period:
- Meharry Medical College was the first medical school in the South to offer four-year training.
- Meharry’s first graduate, Dr. James Monroe Jamison, was the first African-American physician to formally be trained in the South.
- Meharry’s first female graduate, Dr. Georgia E. L. Patton, received her medical degree on February 16, 1893.
At least 14 Black medical schools existed between 1865 and 1910, when Abraham Flexner released his critique of American medical training for the Carnegie Foundation. Known as the Flexner Report, it called for standardized and regulated practices in medical education. Meharry was one of only two African-American medical colleges to meet the academic standards of the Flexner Report. Five of the other schools closed after that.
By 1915, the Meharry Medical Department received a separate charter to operate independently as Meharry Medical College. That same year, the G.W. Hubbard Hospital Foundation, comprised of the wives, daughters, and sisters of Meharry faculty, raised enough money to erect Hubbard Hospital, honoring the College’s first president and dean. Dr. Hubbard remained president until his death in 1921.
The Meharry community has sustained, grown, and progressed thanks to the continued commitment of administrators, faculty, students, and alumni. A few visionaries who embodied and advanced the Meharry Mission Statement, particularly with regard to the School of Medicine, include:
Hulda Margaret Lyttle, ’12—Director of Nurses’ Training and Superintendent of Hubbard Hospital.
Dr. Matthew Walker, Faculty—Surgery Department Chair, established first surgical residency, and enlisted community support for what would become the Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center in 1968.
Dr. Dorothy Lavinia Brown, ’48—First African-American woman to become a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and first to serve in the Tennessee State Legislature.
Dr. E. Perry Crump, ’41—Pediatrics Department Chair, premier researcher in premature births and mental disabilities; also studied the relationship between socio-economic factors and infant mortality
Dr. Harold D. West, 5th President—First African-American president (1952), first to synthesize a new isomer of Threonine; establishes Department of Psychiatry and Social Work; integrated the student body in 1957.
Dr. Lloyd C. Elam, 6th President—During his administration, 14 new facilities are built; Meharry becomes the first medical center in the nation to offer a comprehensive health care delivery system with teams headed by physicians and dentists; Ph.D. courses in pharmacology, biochemistry, and microbiology are established.
Dr. David Satcher, 8th President—During his administration, Meharry proposes merging Hubbard Hospital with Metro General and establishes our nation’s first Institute on Health Care for the Poor and Undeserved. Dr. Satcher served as U.S. Surgeon-General under Presidents Clinton and Bush.
Dr. John E. Maupin, 9th President—During his administration, Hubbard Hospital is renovated and became Metro General Hospital; Meharry’s Centers for Women’s Health and AIDS Research are established.