Article Summary: “The many and conflicting histories of medical education in Canada and the USA: an introduction to the paradigm wars.”

            Hodges, Brian. “The many and conflicting histories of medical education in Canada and the USA: an introduction to the paradigm wars.” Medical Education 39 (2005): 613-621. Web. 31 May 2014.



            Hodges aims to get a better view of what medical education actually was and is like. For the early days of medical education in English-speaking North America, there is not much actual primary source writing to look at. Most doctors received their training as apprentices. He also notes that most doctors who had studied at a university mostly stayed back in Europe. Hodge remarks that 3 different authors writing about this time-frame describe it very differently, focusing on different aspects. For example, one author zooms in on the deplorable state of training and the superstitions. Another author looks at these early doctors’ heroism. And yet another author depicts doctors from the 1600’s ‘til the early 1800’s as capitalist businessmen. Hodge notes that at certain points, all of these could apply, but only partially; one author’s view doesn’t tell the whole story. Authors discussing the next historical period with regards to medical education often gush about improvement, while others focus on eliteism or certain people groups; one might write about women and their struggles to receive training and become doctors. But according to Hodges, each author tends to highlight one particular people group, ending up with a somewhat one-sided view. Flexner’s report resulted in some medical schools for women having to close. Hodges points out that when people talk about Flexner’s report, they often highlight how it greatly helped increase the quality of medical education because the majority of bad schools wouldn’t operate any more, yet they tend to forget that Flexner’s report resulted in disenfranchisement of women and others (such as Jewish or African American people) from medical education for many years. Hodges also mentions sociologists, and how they bring a new, needed perspective on medical education, and one of his main points is that we should not try to transendentalize or quest for “universal truths”


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