Flexner Report (Medical Education in the United States and Canada)
The Flexner Report, “Medical Education in the United States and Canada,” quite possibly the most important written document in the history of American and Canadian medical education. The report is named for Abraham Flexner (1866-1959) who prepared it. Abraham Flexner was not a doctor but was a secondary school teacher and principal for 19 years in Louisville, Kentucky (where this writer’s uncle was one of his students). Flexner then took graduate work at Harvard and the University of Berlin and joined the research staff of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. For the Carnegie Foundation, Flexner researched, wrote and in 1910 published a report entitled “Medical Education in the United States and Canada.” It is known today as the Flexner Report. The Flexner Report triggered much-needed reforms in the standards, organization, and curriculum of North American medical schools. At the time of the Report, many medical schools were proprietary schools operated more for profit than for education. In their stead Flexner proposed medical schools in the German tradition of strong biomedical sciences together with hands-on clinical training. The Flexner Report caused many medical schools to close down and most of the remaining schools were reformed to conform to the Flexnerian model. Flexner founded the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton in 1930 and served as its first director. Abraham Flexner was one of the great educators of the 20th century. Medical education and medicine in North America owe a large debt to Flexner.