The Medical School Marketplace, c.1850–1900

Laura Kelly

in Irish Medical Education and Student Culture, c.1850-1950

Published by Liverpool University Press

Published in print March 2018 | ISBN: 9781786940599
Published online September 2018 | e-ISBN: 9781786945037 | DOI:

Series: Reappraisals in Irish History LUP

The Medical School Marketplace, c.1850–1900

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The early nineteenth century has been frequently hailed as the ‘golden age of Irish medicine’ as result of the work of physicians Robert Graves and William Stokes, whose emphasis on bedside teaching earned fame for the Meath Hospital where they were based. However, by the 1850s and for much of the nineteenth century, Irish medical education had fallen into ill-repute. Irish schools were plagued by economic difficulties, poor conditions, sham certificate system, night lectures and grinding, all of these affected student experience in different ways. Furthermore, intense competition between medical schools meant that students wielded a great deal of power as consumers. Irish students had a remarkable amount of freedom with regard to their education and qualifications. As the medical profession became increasingly professionalised, student behaviour improved but disturbances and protests in relation to professional matters or standards of education replaced earlier rowdiness. The nineteenth century also witnessed complaints by medical students about the quality of the education they were receiving, resulting, for example, in a series of visitations to Queen’s College Cork and Queen’s College Galway. This chapter highlights these distinctive aspects of Irish medical education while illustrating the power of Irish students in the period as consumers.

Keywords: medical students; medical education; Ireland; protest; professionalization

Chapter.  12216 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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