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National Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology (NICHSR)

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Introduction to Health Services Research : A Self-Study Course

Module 2: Brief History of Health Services Research (Page 9 of 40)

The Flexner Report

One of the most famous studies of medical education was the Flexner Report, published in 1910.

One of the most famous studies of medical education was the Flexner Report, published in 1910. The full title is Medical Education in the United States and Canada. Abraham Flexner (1866-1959) was commissioned by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (at the invitation of the AMA) to investigate the quality of the country's 130 medical schools.

Abraham Flexner, author of the 1910 Flexner Report. Click image for a larger view.Citing inadequate laboratories, empty libraries, and negligent faculty, he recommended closing 100 schools. His recommendations were not fully implemented.

However, his Report and other developments in medical education, such as the new emphasis on more rigorous admission standards, scientific training, and licensure, reduced the number of medical schools.

Fewer Physicians = Fewer Rural Services

Higher costs of enrollment and explicit discrimination by the medical schools caused a severe decline in the number of black and women physicians, leading to scarce medical services for rural and poor people (Starr, 1982).

View Key Projects and Milestones in Health Services Research.

Discussion Questions

  1. Although medical students often spoof the Flexner Report in end-of-the-year entertainments called "Flexner's Follies" the report was very important in the history of medicine and health services research. Explain why this is.
  2. Two factors, higher costs of enrollment and explicit discrimination by the medical schools, led to the scarcity of medical services for rural and poor people according to the paragraph above. Has the situation changed at all today?
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