Rx for excellence
Almost from the day back in March of 1842 that Queen’s College at Kingston opened its doors to students, the school’s administrators and supporters started developing plans for a medical school that would educate Presbyterians who wished to become doctors.
It would be 13 long years before those dreams became reality. On November 6, 1854, Irish-born Dr. James Sampson began teaching the first classes in rented space on the second floor of a limestone building at 75 Princess Street.
The experiment proved so successful that the College’s Board of Trustees formally established a medical school the following June. By 1858, the burgeoning program had its own home on campus – located adjacent to Summerhill. “The Old Meds Building” was the first permanent facility erected by Queen’s College.
The history of medical education at Queen’s in the years since is a long, colourful, and proud one. It has included the amalgamation of the separate schools for men and women doctors. Thousands of physicians who received their medical degrees at Queen’s have gone out into the world to work their healing magic – literally into the world. A number of early students came from the United States and the Caribbean, and many of the first women graduates were obliged to work in Christian missions in Africa.
The School of Medicine grew by leaps and bounds in the 20th century, evolving into one of Canada’s premier centres for medical research and continuing education as well as for teaching.
In 1998, the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Rehabilitation Therapy were formally joined to form the Faculty of Health Sciences. While each School has its own director, the director of the School of Medicine (as it was by now known) – training of doctors being the “senior service” – also acts as the Dean of Health Sciences. There are also three Vice-Deans (Academic, Medical Education, and Research) and five Associate Deans (Continuing Professional Development, Nursing, Rehab Therapy, Post-Grad Medical Education, and Undergrad Medical Education).
Despite the general trend in recent years towards a more integrated, comprehensive approach to education in each of the three Schools and in the various Life Sciences departments, the Faculty of Health Sciences has never been headquartered in one central building. The School of Nursing is based in the Cataraqui Building, while the School of Rehabilitation Therapy calls the Louise D. Acton Building home. The School of Medicine has had Botterell Hall as its flagship building since 1979, but it has operated out of several campus buildings, with classes being held in Botterell and in various other venues. Operations will be consolidated with the opening of the school’s gleaming new building – as yet unnamed – at the corner of Stuart and Arch Streets.
The Faculty of Health Sciences is moving ahead into the 21st century with new-found pride, purpose, and sense of direction. Dr. James Sampson, the first head of the first Faculty of Medicine, would no doubt be amazed at what his little program has become, overcoming formidible challenges, not only to survive, but also to earn – despite its relatively small size – a reputation as one of Canada’s best programs.
To learn more about how, as Queen’s approaches its 175th anniversary in 2016, the Faculty of Health Sciences is moving forward with a bold new prescription for excellence, please read the other stories about the Facuty in this issue of the Review.