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UW medical school’s first dean left a lasting legacy

Two past Wisconsin Medical Society presidents, Charles R. Bardeen, MD, and Louis F. Jermain, MD, were more than just proponents of medical education—they were, respectively, the first deans of the University of Wisconsin College of Medicine* and the Marquette University School of Medicine.**

Twenty years after the Society conferred with the UW Board of Regents on a premedical course in 1887, UW’s medical school officially organized in 1907 and had four departments: anatomy, headed by Dr. Bardeen, physiology, physiological chemistry and bacteriology, and hygiene. Doctor Bardeen later served as Society president from 1919-1920.

In 1910, the Flexner Report came out, examining all of the medical colleges throughout the country. Although it was only three years old at the time of the report, the University of Wisconsin College of Medicine was well received.

“Though temporarily housed, the laboratories, complete in number, are admirably equipped with respect to both teaching and research. A successful effort has been made to provide facilities worthy of students on a two-year college basis and of teachers deserving opportunities for progressive work. The department lacks only a building, which shall bring its parts together,” the report said.

During his 28-year tenure as dean, Dr. Bardeen saw the school transition from a two-year basic science program in 1907 into a four-year medical school by 1925. Its first graduating class in 1927 included 19 men and six women.

In 1926, Dr. Bardeen also instituted the ground-breaking preceptorship program in Wisconsin. The only one of its kind in the nation, students spent a quarter of their fourth year working alongside physicians at one of several private practices around the state. Today, the program offers fourth-year preceptorships in nine specialties in more than 30 communities across the state.

Doctor Bardeen also is credited with the creation of the Wisconsin General Hospital in 1925 and later the Service Memorial Institute in 1928, which served as the school’s new academic home. Before this, classes for medical students were held in the attic of the historic Science Hall on campus and the old Chemical Engineering building, according to the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (UWSMPH).

After Dr. Bardeen passed away in June 1935, William Shainline Middleton, MD, was appointed the college’s second dean, serving in that capacity until 1955. Robert N. Golden, MD, is currently the school’s 12th dean.

Today, UWSMPH includes several educational programs—including the Doctor of Medicine program—and three outlying academic campuses at Marshfield Clinic, Gundersen Health System in La Crosse and Aurora Healthcare in Milwaukee. In May, 169 medical students graduated from UWSMPH and more than 180 first-year students are enrolled for this fall.

Check out next week’s Society Snapshot to learn more about the early years of the Marquette University School of Medicine and Dr. Jermain.

*The University of Wisconsin College of Medicine is known now as the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
**The Marquette University School of Medicine is known today as the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Test your knowledge!

The Society has been around for 175 years, but how many members have served as president? If you know the answer or would like to take a guess, e-mail Jennifer Wieman by noon Wednesday, July 6. Good luck!

Thomas Zoch, MD, correctly answered last week’s question: On May 10, 1995, Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson signed Wisconsin Act 10, which capped noneconomic damages in medical liability cases at $350,000. This also included $500,000 for wrongful death. Newly sworn in Society President Marcia J.S. Richards, MD, called it “a giant step in medical malpractice insurance reform.” In 2006, Act 183 reset the cap to $750,000.

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