Medicine in America underwent a radical transformation in 1910. This was the year the Flexner Report was published, a document that evaluated the country’s medical schools and called for sweeping change to the entire medical education system. The report’s recommendations ultimately led to the closure of about 75% of U.S. medical schools, including five of the then seven Black medical colleges.
For the second episode of “Color Code,” we reflect upon the Flexner Report and examine the ripple effects it had on medical education that are still felt today, especially for Black doctors.
The two Black medical schools that survived the Flexner Report were Howard University in D.C. and Meharry Medical College in Nashville. The remaining five were permanently shuttered. Some estimates suggest that had those schools not closed, they may have helped educate some 30,000-35,000 Black physicians over the past century.
In this episode, you will 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 from Meharry Medical College, tells us about the early days of the school after the Flexner Report. Todd Savitt, a historian of medicine 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 insight into the legacy of Flexner’s work.
A transcript of this episode is available here.
To read more on some of the topics discussed in the episode:
- How should we respond to racist legacies in health professions education originating in the Flexner Report? AMA Journal of Ethics
- Abraham Flexner and the Black Medical Schools, by Todd Savitt
- The 1910 Flexner Report
- Diversity in Medical Schools, JAMA Viewpoint
- “Flip the Script” podcast, by Max Jordan Nguemeni Tiako
- The Flexner Report ― 100 Years Later, Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine
- Racial bias in Flexner Report permeates medical education today, MedPage Today
- The 1910 report that disadvantaged minority doctors, JSTOR Daily
- The Black mortality gap, and a document written in 1910, New York Times
- Apology shines light on racial schism in medicine, New York Times
This podcast was made possible with support from the Commonwealth Fund