A Diligent Effort
Hanover. He took the opportunity to express his thoughts about Dartmouth Medical School, which had 14 years previously stopped granting the M.D. That action had been taken in the wake of the 1910 Flexner Report, which charged medical schools with providing more formal clinical education. Because of its remote location, DMS could not provide students with sufficient clinical experience, so in 1914 it had become a two-year, basic science medical school.
"I think you have a perfectly unique opportunity to do a great service to the State of New Hampshire," wrote Cushing, "if you could build up a school which would supply the country, let us say between Concord and Montreal, with its family practitioners and country doctors. . . . You already have a most excellent nucleus, and when I saw that clinical teaching was going on hand in hand with science teaching, I was simply delighted. I would much rather be in a school of that sort than to hold my post at Harvard. So would Nathan Smith if you could call him back."
In the same letter, Cushing returned his honorarium and suggested that a tablet honoring Smith be placed "to come under the eye of the undergraduate student [rather] than merely under the eye of those going into medicine, for after all he is one of your great figures and should be made much of." Cushing even suggested the tablet's wording: "In Room No. 6 in the Northeast corner of the first story of the old Dartmouth Hall, Nathan Smith as Professor of Anatomy, Surgery, Chemistry, and the Theory and Practice of Physic began the teaching of Medicine here November 20, 1797, thereby founding the fourth medical school to be established in this country." (Cushing erred regarding the date, however. The first DMS classes, in 1797, were taught in a private home in Hanover. It was not until 1799 that the Board of Trustees allowed Smith to use Room 6 in Dartmouth Hall.)
Hopkins responded with an endorsement of Cushing's ideas as to both the medical school's future and the placing of a tablet. "I thank you for the expression of your opinion you have given in regard to the Medical School," Hopkins wrote. "It is completely in accordance with my own convictions, and it likewise conforms to my own aspirations for the School. . . . There is no reason in the world why we should not put up a tablet in the northern corridor of Dartmouth Hall with the word of tribute thereupon in appreciation of Nathan Smith which you have suggested."
A tablet honoring Smith was indeed put up only seven months later, though not in the location Cushing suggested. But over 40 years would pass before Dartmouth again offered the M.D. degree. Hopkins expressed his support for revitalizing DMS, including in a letter to the American Medical Association's Council on Medical Education, but the Dartmouth Trustees
questioned the use of general funds to support an institution "never contemplated in the original charter of the College."Hopkins's executive assistant, Robert Strong, wrote a letter to Cushing in January 1929 that attests to Hopkins's frustration with the limitations of a two-year school. Strong wrote that Dr. John Bowler, then DMS's dean, planned to give a copy of Cushing's Medical Career to every DMS graduate, "as we have not been able to do very much for these men in the way of tying them up with the College, [so] we thought of this as an excellent way of bringing home to them, and particularly to the men who only had a premedical course at Dartmouth, something of the worthwhileness of the school, its fine tradition, and the hopes for its future."
On April 3, 1929, Hopkins himself wrote to Cushing to inform him that the Trustees of Dartmouth College wished to award him an honorary Doctor of Letters