The report that restricted black medical education for over a century

mIn 1910 teaching in America underwent a radical change. That year saw the release of the Flexner Report, a document that evaluated the country’s medical schools and called for a sweeping change to the entire medical education system. The report’s recommendations eventually led to the closure of about 75% of US medical schools, including five of the then seven black medical schools.

For the second episode of Color Code, we reflect on the Flexner report and examine the impact it had on medical education that is still being felt today, especially for black doctors.

The two black medical schools that survived the Flexner Report were Howard University in DC and Meharry Medical College in Nashville. The remaining five were permanently closed. Some estimates suggest that these schools might have helped teach some if these schools had not been closed 30,000-35,000 black doctors In the last century.


In 1956, in the biochemistry laboratory at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, two students under the supervision of Dr. HD West (left), the school’s fifth and first black president, conducted an experiment. AP
the Hubbard Training School for Nurses
During the founding of the Hubbard Training School for Nursing, a nurses’ residence was built to house the faculty, staff, and trainee nurses. Registered nurses, a nutritionist, a housewife and 60 students lived here. Founded as a division of Meharry Medical College, Hubbard Hospital opened its doors in 1910. Courtesy of Sandra Parham/Meharry Medical College

In this episode, hear from Max Jordan Nguemeni Tiako, a resident physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, about his experiences as a black medical student. Sandra Parham, a librarian at Meharry Medical College, tells us about the school’s beginnings after the Flexner report. Todd Savitt, medical historian at East Carolina University, reflects on who Abraham Flexner was; and Terri Laws, who teaches Health and Human Services and African and African American Studies at the University of Michigan, shares her insights into the legacy of Flexner’s work.

Class of 1916 at Meharry Medical School in Nashville. Wikimedia Commons

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