An Alternative Path: The Making and Remaking of Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital
When Hahnemann Medical College was founded in Philadelphia in 1848, it was the only institution in the world to offer an M. D. degree in homeopathy, a therapeutic and intellectual alternative to orthodox medicine. This institutional history situates Hahnemann in the broader context of American social changes and chronicles its continual remaking in response to the rise of corporate medicine and constant changes in the Philadelphia community. In the nineteenth century, Hahnemann provided a distinctive and respected identity for its faculty, students, and supporters. In the early twentieth century, it accepted students denied admission elsewhere, especially Jewish and Italian students. It taught a flexible homeopathy that facilitated curricular changes remarkably similar to those at the best contemporary orthodox schools, including selective assimilation of the new experimental sciences, laboratory training, experience in the school's own teaching hospital, and a lengthened course of medical study. Hahnemann is no longer homeopathic, although it remained loyal to its alternative heritage long after the 1910 Flexner Report attempted to eliminate alternative medical education in America. Like many other American medical schools, Hahnemann has had its share of problems, financial and otherwise. The civil rights and radical student movements of the 1960s and 70s, however, pushed the College into a more politically conscious view of itself as a health care provider to the inner city and as a producer of health professionals. In 1993, the College merged with another Philadelphia medical school into a single health care and training institution called the Allegheny University of the HealthSciences. Although Hahnemann is now part of a new system of academic medicine, its institutional legacy endures, as it has in the past, by following alternative paths.