The first medical diploma granted west of the Alleghenies was handed to one Daniel Drake in Cincinnati in 1805 for his four-year apprenticeship in "physic, Surgery, and Midwifery." Making this presentation, Surgeon General William Goforth of the First Division, Ohio Militia, observed: "From his good Abilities and Attention to the Prosecution of his studies, I am fully convinced that he is well qualified to practice in the above branches of his profession." Goforth was right. Drake was qualified beyond the needs of a horseback country doctor. He foresaw and laid the groundwork for a system of interdependent patient care, health education, and research that became the pattern for the nation's medical centers.
In 1819, he obtained a charter from the General Assembly of Ohio and founded the Medical College of Ohio, the first of 21 often short-lived medical schools in Cincinnati, which eventually evolved into the present University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine.
Drake, envisioning that Cincinnati would lead an American Enlightenment, opened the new Medical College of Ohio in 1820 in a room above his father's drugstore. He had 24 students. In his inaugural address, he anticipated his next historic move: "Without the aid of an infirmary, "he said, "no school for cultivation of practical medicine can possibly be made to flourish….It is in hospitals that the lectures on practical or clinical medicine must be delivered."
Thus, a year later and at Drake's urging, the Ohio legislature passes a charter for the Cincinnati Commercial Hospital and Lunatic Asylum. It is believed to have been the first public hospital in the nation whose charter gave the right of clinical teaching to s specified medical college, the faculty of which accepted responsibility for the care of the indigent in return for the use of the hospital as a teaching clinic.
At the same time Drake was in the forefront for movements to establish libraries in Cincinnati, for, her wrote, "…without books, the student with all the other apparatus of knowledge around him, would be in a condition almost as destitute as the savages."
Drake worked unremittingly to fulfill his vision, frequently quarreling with his colleagues over policy (he was once expelled from his own faculty) and even setting up rival medical schools. But despite the turmoil, the politics, and some bitter pamphleteering, the Medical College of Ohio survived. In 1896 it became the University of Cincinnati and in 1915 officially changed its name to the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.
In 1962 the Colleges of Medicine, Pharmacy, and Nursing and Health, Holmes Hospital, and the Cincinnati General Hospital, which replaced the original Commercial Hospital, were integrated as the main elements of the new UC Medical Center. In 1977 UC and the Medical Center received new impetus and stronger financial support to adjust to rapidly changing academic and health care needs when they were ceded to the State of Ohio.
Today the school that began with 24 students has nearly 700. Its residency and fellowship programs train some 600 postgraduate specialists. The College of Medicine itself is housed in the Medical Center's Medical Sciences Building, opened in 1974, one of the largest single structures for medical education in the United States. Besides the college, the Medical Science Building contains medical departments, libraries, and 200 research laboratories.
The Freiberg Orthopaedic Library is maintained by the department and is separate from the Medical School library. Residents have access to both the orthopaedic library and the main medical school library. The Freiberg Orthopaedic Library contains approximately 700 volumes and actively evaluates texts. Nineteen journal subscriptions are maintained on an annual basis. Books and journals in the library do not circulate and adequate space is available for reading and photocopying. Computer facilities are readily available for doing on-line searches, word processing, and slide making/scanning. Educational CD's are also available.
In 1979, the General Hospital and the Christian R. Holmes Hospital were merged to form the University Hospital, the college's teaching hospital. University Hospital is now a Level 1 Trauma Center. The college also works closely with the Children's Hospital Medical Center and the Veterans' Administration Hospital, both of which are adjacent to the Medical Center. A number of college-based residency and fellowship programs are conducted in collaboration with other Cincinnati-area hospitals.
The College of Medicine continues to be an exciting place to work and study. The combination of new buildings, leadership, and increased in resources as a result of UC's adoption by the state has led to academic, scientific, and clinical improvements. Biomedical research grants and contracts, for example, stimulated by construction of the Medical Sciences Building, increased from $5.9 million in the period 1970-71 to $25.6 million in the early 1990's and is now up to $86.3 million in fiscal year 2000.
The future will be fraught with challenges, not the least of them financial, but the plans are made to make the coming years of growth, adaptation, service, and discovery no less an adventure than the past.