Definition of First American medical school

Reviewed on 3/29/2021

First American medical school: King's College Medical School founded in New York in 1767. Its mission was fairly lofty -- to "enlarge the Mind, improve the Understanding, polish the whole Man, and qualify them to support the brightest Character in all the elevated stations in life."

King's College was the first institution in the North American Colonies to confer the degree of Doctor of Medicine (the MD). The first graduates in medicine from the College were Robert Tucker and Samuel Kissarn, who received the degree of Bachelor of Medicine in May 1769, and that of Doctor of Medicine in May 1770 and May 1771, respectively.

Instruction in medicine was given until interrupted by the Revolution and the occupation of New York by the British, which lasted until November 25, 1783. In 1784 instruction was resumed in the academic departments, and in December of the same year the medical faculty was reestablished. In 1814 the medical faculty of Columbia College was merged with the College of Physicians and Surgeons, which had obtained an independent charter in 1807. In 1860, by agreement between the Trustees of the two institutions, the College of Physicians and Surgeons became the Medical Department of Columbia College, from that time on the diplomas of the graduates were signed by the President of Columbia College as well as by the President of the College of Physicians and Surgeons. The connection was only a nominal one, however, until 1891, when the college was incorporated as an integral part of the University. Since September 1917, women have been admitted to the College on the same basis as men.


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