In 1905 the medical school administration recommended to the University trustees that the training schools for the nurses of Mercy and Wesley hospitals become affiliated with Northwestern. The curricula were placed under the general supervision of the medical school, with laboratory instruction provided by medical school faculty. A high school diploma was required for admission.
Although the courses for nurses were separate from the medical students, the laboratories and other medical school facilities were freely available. Elementary laboratory instruction included anatomy, chemistry, dietetics, and bacteriology. The practical instruction for nurses was provided in each hospital.
Diplomas were presented to the nursing graduates at the University’s Annual Commencement beginning in 1906.
In 1911, the nursing school at Evanston Hospital was added to the affiliated program. Instruction was given in the laboratories of the College of Liberal Arts on the Evanston campus and at the hospital. The course of study, methods of instruction, and requirements for graduation was determined by a joint committee of the hospital and university. The coursework was practically the same as that required at Mercy and Wesley Memorial hospitals.
By 1920, the University’s affiliation with Mercy Hospital had ceased.
Nurses circa 1920
In 1926 the medical school moved to the new campus on Chicago Avenue, continuing the affiliation with Wesley Memorial Hospital and its nursing school, still located on the former Dearborn Street campus.
Passavant Memorial Hospital, which opened in 1929, was the first hospital on the new campus. A nursing school was established and became affiliated, with slightly higher admission requirements than the completion of high school so as to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts. Further courses offered by the medical school faculty included physiology, pharmacology, and pathology. There was discussion of establishing a combined baccalaureate degree nursing program; however, as mutually advantageous as the proposal was, negotiations dragged on for years.
During the Great Depression the nursing schools at Passavant and Wesley were closed, only the Evanston program continued.
After Wesley Memorial Hospital moved to the Chicago campus in 1941, the nursing school was re-opened in affiliation with the University. Courses in anatomy and related sciences were taught by the medical school faculty. Wesley adopted Northwestern’s grading and quarter system to coincide with the University’s academic calendar, in anticipation of establishment of a baccalaureate degree nursing program.
In 1943, the University approved a five-year combined Registered Nurse/Bachelor of Science degree awarded through its College of Liberal Arts. That same year, the University established a program for graduate nurses leading to the Bachelor of Philosophy degree. In order to facilitate the degree program, admission requirements at Wesley were raised, with nursing school applicants required to have graduated in the top one third of their high school class.
In 1948 Passavant Memorial Hospital announced plans to reopen its nursing school. A joint committee of the Hospital and the University agreed to supervise instruction on the wards, in the laboratories, and in the classroom. The school, named the James Ward Thorne School of Nursing, opened in 1951.
A nurse sets up dialysis treatment in 1973
Wesley and Passavant nursing schools began working together for educational reform. Faculty from the University’s affiliated nursing schools (Wesley, James Ward Thorne, and Evanston) formed the Northwestern University Council on Nursing, which coordinated the schools’ combined degree programs: a three-year program leading to a Diploma of Graduate Nurse; a five-year program leading to a Bachelor of Science degree with Diploma of Graduate Nurse; or a five-year program leading to a PhB degree with Diploma of Graduate Nurse.
In the 1960s, the Council on Nursing set as its goal the creation of a four-year integrated collegiate nursing program at the University. The combined diploma/BS/PhB programs were not accredited by the National League of Nursing and were phased out in the early 1960s as a result of continuing difficulties in transferring credits to graduate-level nursing programs.
Despite years of discussion, a number of studies, and the formation of several task forces, significant progress was not made toward development of a baccalaureate nursing program at the University.
In 1969, the frustration of both schools’ administration was manifested in a recommendation that the words “affiliated with Northwestern University” be omitted from Wesley and James Ward Thorne diplomas, and that participation in the University commencement ceremonies be discontinued.
With the formation of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in 1972, both Passavant Memorial and Chicago Wesley Memorial hospitals anticipated a degree-granting program to be established by the University as a part of their formal academic program and that the merger of the two nursing schools was considered an interim measure. The official name chosen was the Wesley Passavant School of Nursing.
Nursing graduation ceremony from 1974
The University created a division of Allied Health Sciences in 1973. Planning proceeded, admitting the first class in 1979. Students in the program earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University. In 1978, the Wesley-Passavant School of Nursing admitted a final class in its traditional three-year program, designed primarily for high-school graduates with the last graduation ceremony in 1981.
The Evanston Hospital School of Nursing closed in 1984.
The Programs in Nursing Education of the University established a graduate program in 1982. Its major objectives were to develop leaders who were prepared to advance nursing knowledge and initiate improvements in healthcare systems and to provide a cadre of scholars who would have a theoretical and research base to pursue doctoral study.
The Program was granted independent status as a new University Center for Nursing in 1985, but its existence was very short-lived. Without warning, the University announced the closing of the Center in 1988 and phased out the programs in 1990. The Provost of the University cited a deficit, declining enrollments in the undergraduate program, and the presence of several less expensive nursing programs at public institutions in the area as reasons for the closing.
Through a span of 85 years, more than 5,100 graduates in the various nursing programs affiliated with the University have provided health and nursing services to many generations. Some are still in practice today.
As an experiment in the fall session of 1869, the Chicago Medical College registered three women. However the male students complained quite vociferously that with women in the classroom, some clinical work and lecture material were omitted. At the end of the spring session of 1870, the Faculty Committee terminated the experiment. Only Dr. Mary Harris Thompson was awarded an MD ad eundem (a courtesy given to those who already had an MD). The other two women were not allowed to continue their studies.
The debate concerning the admission of women continued for nearly five decades, with the usual decision of tabling the discussion.
In December 1923, Mrs. Montgomery Ward provided the funding for a new Medical Center, giving additional impetus to the debate. The University administration asked the Medical Council to state its policy on the subject.
Finally the announcement that women would be admitted was made on May 31, 1924, and the first women students registered in the fall of 1926.
A quota of four women students was set for admission―four being the number needed for an anatomical dissecting team. This token number persisted until 1963, when nine women were registered.
First-year students from the Class of 1932 included a quota of four women, all seated in the front row.
The 1970s marked a greater increase of women entering and graduating from medical school. By 1978 there were 60 women medical students in attendance at Northwestern University Medical School. This increase was due to both political and cultural changes. The Higher Education Amendments of 1972―known as Title IX―and the Public Health Service Act of 1975 banned discrimination on the grounds of gender.
So much has changed over the years at Northwestern that today’s medical school cohorts are comprised of 40 percent or more women in the classroom, and there are plenty of female instructors from a multitude of specialties teaching the art of medicine to the next generation of physicians.
That’s all for now,
Since the founding of the medical school in 1859 the faculty, students, staff, and graduates have been ready to provide their medical and surgical expertise in times of strife and conflict.
Edmund Andrews, MD (1824-1904), one of the medical school’s founders, acquired notable battlefield experience as surgeon in the First Illinois Regiment of Light Artillery during the American Civil War (1861-1865) when he saw heavy action during Grant’s campaign in Tennessee.
Dr. Andrews’ letters were published in the Chicago Medical Examiner during 1862 which described his observations of surgeries, conditions of the camps and hospitals, and overall health of the troops.
Allen A. Wesley, MD (1856-1929), was a graduate of the class of 1887 and one of the founders of Provident Hospital. During the Spanish-American War (1898), Major Wesley was appointed to the medical examining board for all medical officers serving in Cuba, the first African American to hold such a position.
Major Wesley and other medical officers who were stationed in Cuba.
Nicholas Senn, MD (1844 to 1908), was a graduate of the medical school’s class of 1868. In 1884, he was appointed Brigadier General of the Wisconsin National Guard. He founded the Association of Military Surgeons in 1892 and was appointed the Surgeon General of the Illinois National Guard in 1893.
During the Spanish American War he was commissioned Lt. Colonel and Chief Surgeon of U.S. Volunteers.
Lucy Gaynor, MD, graduated with honors from Northwestern University Woman’s Medical School in 1891. Dr. Gaynor was endorsed by the Friend’s Missionary Board and in 1892 sailed to Nanking, China, to begin two decades of missionary work as the city’s first female physician. She established a hospital and a training school for nurses.
On December 6, 1911, Nanking fell to revolutionary forces; by December 10, Dr. Gaynor and her staff opened an emergency field hospital where she contracted typhus and died on April 22,1912.
World War I – France
In October 1916, Dr. Frederick Besley began organizing a general hospital unit to assist the Allied war effort in Europe. Medical officers were recruited from Northwestern University’s medical school with others from Rush Medical College and the University of Illinois College of Medicine. The nurses were recruited from Cook County, Mercy, Augustana, and Evanston hospitals. Many of the enlisted men had been students at Northwestern and other universities in the Chicago area. This unit was called the United States Army Base Hospital Number 12.
Dr. Besley, commissioned a major, became director and chief of surgical services for the unit. It left Chicago on May 16, 1917, landed at Boulogne, France, on June 11, and set up headquarters at Dannes-Camier. The unit replaced the British Expeditionary Force's Base Hospital No. 18, freeing the British staff for duty closer to the front line.Barracks at Dannes-Camier, France, 1917
For the next 22 months, the unit operated a 1,200- to 1,500-bed tent-and-hut hospital, treating some 60,000 patients, mostly British soldiers. Occasional German air raids in the area created dangers beyond the usual hazards of disease and accident. Most of the officers, nurses, and enlisted men returned to the United States in April, 1919.
World War II – Algeria and Italy
J. Roscoe Miller, MD '30, dean of the medical school, and Michael L. Mason, MD '24, PhD '31, were responsible for the re-activation of Base Hospital No. 12 as the 12th General Hospital in 1942.
Dr. Mason had served the unit in World War I as sergeant in charge of orderlies. Alumni and faculty were the nucleus of the 2,000-bed general hospital, which included eight operating rooms.
At home, the medical school curriculum was accelerated by scheduling continuous classes.
The Northwestern unit was stationed at Ain-El-Turck, Algeria, December 1942-December 1943; and in Italy, successively at Naples, Rome, and Livorno. The personnel worked in rehabilitation of casualties, infectious disease, and combat and war fatigue. The unit was inactivated September 15, 1945.
A letter from U.S. Army Surgeon General Kirk to university administrators sums up the role Northwestern faculty, students, and alumni played in World War I and II:
"I realize what a serious deprivation it has been for your University to meet its manifold responsibilities with so many of its ablest members in the 12th General Hospital...that your contribution has been of inestimable value to the Army Medical Service, particularly to our soldier patients.“
Unfortunately, the medical school has little or no history of the men and women who served in the Korean and Viet Nam conflicts or those who may have been involved in Operation Desert Storm, Iraq, or Afghanistan.
Anyone willing to share photographs, recollections or personal histories?
That's all for now,
Alumnus Tim Hunter, MD ’68, sent Ward Rounds journal entries from his training days as a fourth-year medical student, serving for two weeks at the Chicago Maternity Center. Here we share some excerpts and invite you to tell us about your experiences.
In addition, alumnus David Kerns, MD ’68, is writing a book about his experiences at the CMC that is due out in 2013. “Fortnight on Maxwell Street: A Novel“ is “true fiction,” a medical student’s trial-by-fire delivering babies in Chicago’s housing projects and tenements in the early spring of 1968. It is a tale of fear and courage, choice and consequence, set amid extreme poverty and racial tension in the days immediately preceding and following the assassination of Martin Luther King.
The Chicago Maternity Center, January 1968
January 14, 1968
Getting off the “L” at Halsted was very weird – nobody around, fresh snow by the Circle campus, and a sinking feeling in my stomach. At 9:05 I arrived at the Maternity Center, a dump of a building at the corner of Newbury and Maxwell. Dr. Jack Casper oriented us as to our duties and then turned us over to Jane, a nurse who talked for 2-3 hours on the setups and equipment we would be using. About this time, I volunteered to go out with Jack and Betty Lou for a call concerning a para XIII, gr XII who was bleeding.
Her home was 9000 South and 3000 East in a marginal neighborhood. She had only a small room to herself… What an incredible experience. She had 12 children in foster homes, her husband was in Mexico (won’t return), goofy neighbors coming in asking for TV Guides. Finally, we determined she was not in labor, but we had the police take her to Cook County, since she was evidently bleeding at least a small amount.
Fourth-year medical students Gary London, David Kerns, and Al Robbins
January 17, 1968
Wednesday morning showed up for clinic. Dr. Orion really raked me with questions. The afternoon was fun. Left at 4 pm for an unregistered case at 1300 North and 1300 West. Appalachians – the husband who had severe amblyopia of the left eye met us and was very excited. The woman was having mild contractions every 3 to 4 minutes cervix post and undilated. Donna and Tina were along. After one hour, I gave the patient two grains of Phenobarbital. Then examined her an hour later. She was the same. It turns out she was scheduled to go to Wesley anyway, but the husband was broke and also didn’t think he had the time to take her there. We declared a false labor and instructed the husband and his mother to take his wife to Wesley via the police if any trouble or pains came up.
Came back to the Center at 8:30 pm. Donna and Karen fixed me an egg sandwich and fried potatoes. Very good. Watched Johnson’s State of the Union Message. Argued about Vietnam for two hours with Dave Kerns. Went to bed.
The Booth House is where fourth-year medical students lived during their stints at the Chicago Maternity Center, 1968.
January 20, 1968
Got called at 3:50 this morning. Went out to see Mrs. Bootes – 26 year old gr III, para ? carrying twins transverse lie plus double footling breech. At first strong contractions every 2 to 3 minutes. Cervix undilated. Jack said to watch her for awhile and then give her Phenobarbital to rest her. Must be careful with this case – could lose the breech. She finally fell asleep without the Phenobarbital. We declared a false labor and left at 6:30 am. Later today Al Robbins went out with her and spent 5 to 6 hours before another false labor was declared.
Bob and I went over to the Center for dinner -mass confusion: dinner closed, many cases. Bob went out to see the primagravida again. (Third time today she has been seen.) Right now watching Jackie Gleason. First up waiting for a call.
A group of medical students who were doing a rotation at Evanston Memorial Hospital, circa 1968. Standing: Edward Ochsner, Theodore Ning, Jr, David Feldman, and Michael King. Seated middle row: Tim Hunter, William Burkhardt, III, and Jon Smucker. Front row: Gary London, Neil Stone, Arthur Feldman, and Raymond Hopkins.
January 22, 1968
I am now second up. Al has had three hours sleep in the last 48 hours – he is first up. So far, I have had only four deliveries, Al 10. He has had all the good cases, but has had to work for them. I will shower and go to bed. Got called at 2 am. Went out with Tina and a student nurse – a MUD on South side. The cord had snapped but no bleeding from the mother or the fetus. Child was 1.5 months premature but weighed 5.5 pounds. Had a tight foreskin. Good cry. No other problems.
Submitted by James J. Monge’, MD ’55 (Excerpts from 4-page letter written April 5, 2012.)
We encourage other alums to share their recollections of Loyal Davis, MD, who was named chair of the Department of Surgery at Northwestern in 1933 and remained in that post until 1963. He inspired and trained many physicians and surgeons during his years at Northwestern. He achieved emeritus status in 1964.
My relationships with Dr. Loyal Davis tended to alternate with each year I was at Northwestern Medical Center, as you will gather from the following:
In the first quarter of school, all freshman students were required to arrive at the medical school at 8 a.m. dressed in jacket, shirt, and tie to meet with Dr. Davis. Students were asked to stand, introduce themselves, share where they had grown up and which college they had attended.
When I was called upon, I mentioned having graduated from the University of Chicago. Dr. Davis immediately launched into a long dismissal of the U of C based on the chancellor who had canceled football… . I with some temerity stated that I liked the University of Chicago and thought I had received an excellent education. Looking displeased, Dr. Davis brought out a notebook, asked me to spell my name, and wrote it down. Needless to say, I regretted saying anything, although, nothing ever came of it.
In the junior year, each medical student had to meet with Dr. Davis in his office. At the meeting that started out very pleasantly, Dr. Davis asked about my future plans, what internships I was interested in, and my plans for practice. I foolishly stated that I liked all types of practice and wanted to do general surgery and family practice. There was an immediate eruption: ‘How do you expect to be a competent surgeon as a general practitioner and not having had a surgery residency?!’
I at once stated that I intended to take a surgical residency and then do both. I was dismissed with a harrumph; as I left the office I could hear an irritated Dr. Davis dictating, “This student thinks he could do both general practice and surgery.’
Students were allowed to take an elective service for six weeks during the senior year. I requested anesthesia. The next day I was told to report to Dr. Davis at his office. Dr. Davis demanded to know why I wanted to be an anesthesiologist. The response: ‘Since I was going to be a surgeon, I wanted to know what was going on at the head of the table.’ A smiling Dr. Davis said, ‘Why didn’t you say so?’ He called Dr. Mary Karp at Wesley Hospital, explained the situation and asked her to take good care of me, put his arm around me as he walked me out of the office, cautioning that if I had a problem, to call him. Mary Karp was wonderful and I had a very good six weeks.
Dr. Davis took me with him as he made his special noon rounds on patients, giving instructions for when they would be dismissed and at home. He also discussed his fee with them. His standard fee, whether for a back operation or a craniotomy, was one month’s salary (of the patient). At the time few patients mentioned having health insurance. He would ask the patient how many children he had, was he paying any tuitions, and whether he was supporting anyone besides his family, such as his parents. If there were excessive expenses, the fee would be trimmed. The fee was never increased.
If the reader senses a great amount of respect and admiration that I had for Dr. Davis, even affection, he is correct.
Jim Monge’, MD ’55