A Brief History of Medical Education in New Jersey

By Robert L. Trelstad, MD
December 2002

  • Teaching by Apprenticeship
  • Teaching under Academic Sponsorship
  • Oversight by Physicians, Hospitals, Politicians, Associations & Government
  • National Standards, the Flexner Report 1910

The New Jersey story in brief...

1666 Piscataway Settled by New Englanders
Henry Greenland, of New Brunswick, was the first physician in Middlesex County of which there is any reliable record. He lived in Newbury, Massachusetts, in 1662 and in Kittery from 1665-1672. He had a good education and was an able physician, but passionate and being a Royalist he became involved in many quarrels with the Puritans, which caused him to leave the Province. He came to East Jersey about 1675 and settled at "The River," as New Brunswick was then called. He practiced here to a very limited extent; he kept a tavern on the east bank of the Raritan. The agreement separating New Jersey into East and West New Jersey was signed in Greenland's home, in Princeton, a physical structure that exists today.

1724 New Brunswick Chartered

1765 Academic Schools of Medicine Begin

  • Penn 1765
  • Kings College 1767
  • Harvard College 1785
  • Queen's/Rutgers College 1792, 1810-'16, 1826-'30, 1962-
  • Dartmouth 1797

1766 Queen's College founded, New Brunswick

1766 Medical Society of New Jersey founded
The organization of the Medical Society of New Jersey was conceived by the physicians of Middlesex County--Drs. Kean, Cochran and Bloomfield--who, enlisting a dozen others in that and the adjoining counties, issued the call for the memorable meeting at New Brunswick on July 23, 1766. That call was inserted in the New York Mercury and was as follows:

"A certain number of practitioners of physic and surgery in East New Jersey, having agreed to form a Society for their mutual improvement, the advancement of the profession and promotion of the public good, and desirous of extending as much as possible the usefulness of their scheme, and cultivating the utmost harmony and friendship with their brethren, hereby request and invite every gentleman of the profession in the Province, that may approve of their design, to attend their first meeting, which will be held at Mr. Duff's, in the City of New Brunswick, on Wednesday, the 23rd of July, at which time and place the Constitution and Regulations of the Society are to be settled and subscribed. East New Jersey, June 27, 1766."

When the American Revolutionary War broke out, Cochran was driven from New Brunswick by the British, who burned his home. He gave distinguished service to General George Washington, who appointed him as Physician and Surgeon General in the Middle Department in 1777 and later in 1781 as the first Director General of the Hospitals of the United States.

In short, Cochran was educated by a solo practitioner who accepted apprentices; he gained on-the-job training in the military; he practiced using new approaches, as witnessed by his belief in smallpox vaccination; he helped lay the foundation for formal medical education for practitioners in New Jersey; and he contributed to the overall organization and operation of the new nation's miliary medical services.

1792-1794 Queen's Medical College Awards MD Degrees
Dr. Nicholas Romayne

1810-1816 Queen's Medical College
Dr. Nicholas Romayne again

1825 Queen's Changes Name to Rutgers

1826-1835 Rutgers Medical College in NYC
Click Here for pictures.

Faculty of Medicine - Rutgers Medical College - 1826

  • David Hosack, MD, FRS
    President of the Medical Faculty
    Professor of the Institutes and
    Practice of Physic & Clinical Medicine
  • Samuel L. Mitchill, MD, LLD
  • William James MacNeven, MD
    Professor of Therapeutics and Materia Medica
  • Valentine Mott, MD
    Professor of Surgery
  • John W. Francis, MD
    Professor of Obstetrics & Forensic Medicine
  • John D. Goodman, MD
    Professor of Anatomy & Physiology

  • John Griscom, LLD
    Professor of Chemistry
  • Peter S. Townsend, MD
    Registrar of the Medical Faculty

1833 Delaware-Raritan Canal Built

1884 New Brunswick Hospital
During the winter of 1883, the city physicians provided a course of lectures on the subject "First Aid to the Injured," and as a result, the Hospital Aid Association was formed. The necessity of a Hospital was felt and in February 1884, a number of ladies met and organized an Association, "Whose object and aim was the securing of a hospital for the City of New Brunswick," and in March 1885, the New Brunswick City Hospital was organized. In 1888 the Directors raised $3,000 to purchase a lot for a new hospital and Mrs. Grace T. Wells erected thereon a fine building in memory of her husband, to be called The John Wells Memorial Hospital. It changed its name to Middlesex General Hospital in 1916 and in 1986 to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.

A Victor Radiograph Machine was introduced at a cost of nearly $2,000, contributed by the Medical Staff. Recently Drs. Smith and Gutmann purchased sixty milligrams of radium which will be used there.

The report for the year ending February 28, 1921, shows: In hospital March 1, 1920, number of patients, 51; admitted to wards during the year, 377; and to private rooms, 474; a total of 902 treated; births, 131. Discharged: Cured, 699; improved, 104; unimproved, 20; died, 44. Patients remaining in hospital February 28, 35. The Medical and Surgical Staff was: Drs. L.P. Runyon, president; B. Gutmann, vice-president; F.L. Brown, secretary; D.C. English, consulting physician, with Drs. A.L. Smith, J.P. Schureman, F.E. Riva, F.M. Hoffman, N.N. Forney, F.W. Scott, H.W. Nafey, D.L. Morrison, B.M. Howley, J.F. Anderson, G.F. Leonard, and as dental surgeons: E. S. Griggs, H. Iredell and F.L. Hindle.

The 20th Century

National Standards, the Flexner Report 1910
Medical Education in the United States and Canada. A Report to The Carnegie Foundation For The Advancement of Teaching, Abraham Flexner: "The curse of medical education is the excessive number of schools. The situation can improve only as weaker and superfluous schools are extinguished." In 2002 there were 125 medical schools. In 1910 there were no medical schools in New Jersey.

"In 1950 no less than three independent governmental commissions explored the need for public medical education in New Jersey and all found in the affirmative. Thus supported, a referendum for a bond issue toward the construction of a medical school was placed on the ballot in 1954 and all omens were favorable for passage until the Catholic hierarchy mobilized in opposition. The reason for the opposition was apparently to protect the plans of Seton Hall University, which was projecting a medical school of its own in Jersey City at that time. Seton Hall Medical School was indeed established in Jersey City in 1956."

1956 Rutgers becomes The State University
Rutgers and the State enter into a compact (the "Rutgers law of 1956," NJSA 18A:65-1 et seq), whereby Rutgers becomes the state university and an instrumentality of the State of New Jersey. The Board of Governors, with six of its 11 members appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate, and five of its members appointed by the Board of Trustees, is created to manage the University.

1956-1962 Seton Hall Operates, then Closes, Medical School
and NJ College of Medicine and Dentistry Opens

"....about eight years later, proving too great a burden to the diocese, Seton Hall Medical School was rescued by the state of New Jersey, which purchased it, changed its name to New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry, and moved it from Jersey City to Newark."

A $1 million grant from the Kellogg Foundation to Rutgers was awarded to plan for the initiation of a two-year medical school based in Piscataway.

1962 Rutgers Medical School 'Reopens' as Two-Year School

1970 Rutgers Medical School & NJCMD Become CMDNJ
On May 3, 1970, New Jersey Governor William T. Cahill proposed a drastic change in medical education in New Jersey, declaring that community health care must have priority over research and the training of specialists. Governor Cahill asked the state legislature to approve the consolidation of Rutgers University Medical School and the New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry for the purpose of delivering general practitioners to city clinics throughout the state.

Public Hearing before Assembly Education Committee on ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 1059 - combines the Rutgers Medical School and the New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry, to be known as the College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Held May 12, 1970, in the Assembly Chamber at the State House in Trenton, New Jersey.

1977 Affiliation Agreement between CMDNJ-Rutgers Medical School and Middlesex General Hospital
Click Here for pictures.

1980 The History of Medicine and Medical Care in New Brunswick

Norman Reitman, MD, FACC
Clinical Professor of Medicine, UMDNJ-Rutgers Medical School
Paper delivered as part of the Tercentennial Lectures
New Brunswick, NJ
September 24, 1980
Middlesex General University Hospital, New Brunswick, NJ

1982 CMDNJ becomes UMDNJ

1986 Name Changes
Rutgers Medical School and Middlesex General University Hospital change names to UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, respectively.

2002 & 2004 Commission on Health Science, Education and Training

At the request of Governor James E. McGreevey, the Commission on Health Science, Education, and Training—led by P. Roy Vagelos, MD—assessed medical and allied health care education in the state and formulated recommendations designed "to enhance the quality of education, to increase their overall competitiveness as institutions of health care learning, and to foster healthy synergy amongst these institutions." The Commission called for the creation of a single New Jersey research university system, combining UMDNJ, Rutgers and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. The system would have had three universities: one based in Newark, one in New Brunswick/Piscataway, and one in Stratford/Camden.



2009 Cooper Medical School established
In June 2009, Rowan University and The Cooper Health System partnered to establish Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, the first new medical school to be created in the state in three decades. The establishment of Cooper Medical School—a four-year medical school located in Camden—was hoped to help address the local and national shortage of physicians and improve healthcare throughout the region.

2010 Medical School Construction Commences in Camden
In October 2010, construction began on a 200,000-square-foot, six-story facility in Camden for Cooper Medical School.

2010 Governor’s Task Force on Higher Education
In December 2010, a report by the Governor’s Task Force on Higher Education, which was led by The Hon. Thomas H. Kean, was presented to Governor Chris Christie. The report called for the merger of Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and UMDNJ’s School of Public Health with Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in New Brunswick. It also recommended concurrent steps to “fundamentally transform” the rest of UMDNJ, while sustaining the “integrity of medical education and healthcare delivery in Newark” and addressing University Hospital, New Jersey Medical School, and medical education in South Jersey.

2012 UMDNJ Advisory Committee Final Report Released
Chaired by Sol. J. Barer, PhD, the UMDNJ Advisory Committee submitted its final report and recommendations to the state about the restructuring of the medical school on Jan. 25, 2012.

2012 Major Restructuring of Medical Education Approved in the State
On June 7, 2012, the New Jersey Medical and Health Sciences Education Restructuring Act was introduced in the state Senate; it was introduced in the state House on June 14. The Act was approved and signed by Governor Chris Christie on Aug. 22, 2012. The Act provided for the transfer of all schools, institutes, and centers of UMDNJ—except for the School of Osteopathic Medicine, the entire Stratford campus, the remaining UMDNJ facilities in Camden, and University Hospital—to Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. In addition, the School of Osteopathic Medicine and UMDNJ facilities in Stratford/Camden were to be transferred to Rowan University, while University Hospital in Newark was to be established as a free-standing organization. The Act also called for the creation of a Rowan University/Rutgers-Camden Board of Governors, with one stated goal being to create a joint health sciences college.

A full timeline, as well as copies of the legislation, transcripts, and more, are available here: http://camlaw.rutgers.edu/legislative-history-nj-mhser-act.

2012 Cooper Medical School Inaugural Class Begins

2013 UMDNJ Schools Transfer to Rutgers and Rowan
On July 1, 2013, provisions of the New Jersey Medical and Health Sciences Education Restructuring Act took effect. With the transfer of the School of Osteopathic Medicine in Camden, Rowan University is believed to become only the second full-purpose university in the country to have both an osteopathic and allopathic medical school.



© 2014