The M.D. program is notable for its assessment of student achievement. In particular, the school employs the so-called "Yale System" established by Dean Winternitz in the 1920s, wherein first- and second-year students are not graded or ranked among their classmates. In addition, course examinations are anonymous, and are intended only for students' self-evaluation. Student performance is thus based on seminar participation, qualifying examinations (if a student fails, it is his or her responsibility to meet with a professor and arrange for an alternative assessment - passing grades are not released), clinical clerkship evaluations, and the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). Prior to graduation, students are required to submit a thesis based on original research. A hallmark of the Yale System is the unusual flexibility that it provides; with this flexibility comes great responsibility for the student to take an active role in directing his or her education according to individual interests.
Other key features of the Yale System include:
commentary-based feedback from small group leaders
an integrated Molecules to Systems course that includes Biochemistry, Physiology, and Cell Biology and the corresponding small group conferences (Biochemistry Conference, Physiology Case Conference, Histology Lab)
early clinical exposure through the two-year Pre-Clinical Clerkship (PCC) course, in which students (in groups of 4) are assigned a physician mentor with whom they will learn the History and Physical Examination
a surgery-based Human Anatomy course that focuses on teaching the principles of anatomy through case-based dissections involving surgical procedures rather than rote memorization
a comprehensive student teaching program (Students Helping Students) in which second-year students review key concepts during optional evening sessions several times each week
the opportunity to take electives that include advanced cell biology and neuroscience, global health, translational research, or any topic being taught through graduate or undergraduate programs at the University
More graduates of the Yale School of Medicine enter medical scholarship (including Ph.D. degrees in Medicine) as professors of medicine than those graduates of other medical schools.
Original building of Yale School of Medicine, formerly a hotel built by James Hillhouse at the corner of Grove and Prospect Streets. Originally leased by Yale, the building was later purchased with funds from the Connecticut State Legislature.
In 18th century United States, credentials were not needed to practice medicine. Prior to the founding of the medical school, Yale graduates would train through an apprenticeship in order to become physicians. Yale president Ezra Stiles conceived the idea of training physicians at Yale and ultimately, his successor Timothy Dwight IV helped to found the medical school. The school was chartered in 1810 and opened in New Haven in 1813. Nathan Smith (medicine and surgery) and Benjamin Silliman (pharmacology) were the first faculty members. Silliman was a professor of chemistry and taught at both Yale College and the Medical School. The other two founding faculty were Jonathan Knight, anatomy, physiology and surgery and Eli Ives, pediatrics.
One of Yale's earliest medical graduates was Dr. Asaph Leavitt Bissell of Hanover, New Hampshire, who graduated in 1815, a member of the school's second graduating class. Following his graduation, Dr. Bissell moved to Suffield, Connecticut, a tobacco-farming community where his parents came from, and where he practiced as a country physician for the rest of his life. The saddlebags that Dr. Bissell carried in his practice, packed with paper packets and glass bottles, are today in the school's Medical Historical Library.
Yale medical diploma awarded Asaph Leavitt Bissell, Class of 1815, signed by school's four professors and Timothy Dwight IV
The original building (at Grove and Prospect) later became Sheffield Hall, part of the Sheffield Scientific School (razed in 1931). In 1860, the school moved to Medical Hall on York Street, near Chapel (this building was razed in 1957). In 1925, the school moved to its current campus, neighboring the hospital. This campus includes the Sterling Hall of Medicine, Boyer Center for Molecular Medicine (1991, designed by Cesar Pelli), Anlyan Center (2003, designed by Payette and Venturi Scott Brown) and the Amistad Building (2007, designed by Herbert Newman).
Before 1845, there was no dean. Nathan Smith, followed by Jonathan Knight, provided leadership in the early years.
Charles Hooker (1845–1863), Professor of Anatomy and Physiology. His practice included surgery, obstetrics, and practical medicine.
Charles Augustus Lindsley (1863–1885), Professor of Materia Medica and Therapeutics; later of the Theory and Practice of Medicine.
Herbert Eugene Smith (1885–1910), physician and chemist
Samuel C. Harvey (1886–1953), Assistant Professor of Surgery (1920–1921), Associate Professor and acting Chairman of the Surgical Department (1921–1924), Chairman of the Department of Surgery and Chief Surgeon of Yale-New Haven Hospital (1924–1947), Full Professor (1924–1950), Editor of the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine (1950–1953).
Orvan Hess, developed the fetal heart monitor and early use of penicillin