The History of African American Medical Schools and the Flexner Report

Title

The History of African American Medical Schools and the Flexner Report

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Identifier

JonesL_04_20140501-Final_Clip11

Publication Date

5-1-2014

Publisher

The Making Cancer History® Voices Oral History Collection, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

City

Houston, Texas

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Transcript

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

I’m sorry. What’s the name of that one?

Lovell Jones, PhD

Meharry.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

I don’t know that one.

Lovell Jones, PhD

That’s in Nashville.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

Oh, okay.

Lovell Jones, PhD

It’s one of the surviving black medical schools. If you don’t know the history of that, is that at the turn of the century there were ten black medical schools in the country. There were eighteen women medical schools in the country. None of the women medical schools survived the Flexner Report, and the Flexner Report was done by two brothers, one a physician, the other a hatchet man. (laughs) And it was a way of the Medical Society to control the number of physicians in the U.S. and who would be a physician. So they went around the country—quote, unquote—looking at the quality of the training of physicians, and then they came back with the recommendation that no medical school should exist that’s not affiliated with a university.

Well, most of the women medical schools weren’t, because [unclear]. And only one of the medical schools was—well, actually only one was affiliated, of the ten, with a university, and that was Howard University’s medical school. And Meharry happened to be quasi affiliated with Fisk, which is across the street. So those were the only two that survived.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

Wow.

Lovell Jones, PhD

So if you look at that—and I tell people to think about this in terms of health disparities, because people haven’t made that link, at least as far as I know. So you go from ten to two. The majority of institutions are not taking African Americans as medical students, so you’ve now reduced the flow of physicians by 80 percent to a community that really needs physicians. And then you redirect women to be nurses, because the majority of medical schools aren’t going to take women either.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

Or maybe not even nurses.

Lovell Jones, PhD

Right. So you set the pattern for years and years and decades, because by 1918, there were no women medical schools in the country, and there were just Meharry and Howard.

The History of African American Medical Schools and the Flexner Report

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