up SearchFeedback[help] CPMCnet

POSTCARDFROMTHEPAST

The Draft: Class of 1918

1917—The Council of National Defense advised medical school deans to discourage their students from enlisting in active military service, but a new policy of drafting medical students prompted the P&S Class of 1918 to issue a statement:

“The present policy of drafting medical students into the ranks . . . is an injury to the country and an injustice to the students. This will not only reduce the number of medical men available for Government service, but has also already, a matter quite as important, created a serious situation in depleting the staffs of the hospitals of the country. These hospitals for years have absorbed the entire output of the medical schools, and will be unable to obtain young graduate doctors to serve on their house staffs.

-Edward Schlesinger chaired the P&S Department of Neurological Surgery from 1973 to 1981. He excelled as investigator, clinician, teacher, and leader.

“Let it be remembered that, while it takes months to make a soldier, it takes years to make a doctor. The students in question have already had years of specialized training; to throw away these years of technical training by drafting these men into the ranks is diametrically opposed to the spirit of the selective draft.”

The statement called upon the press to urge members of the public to lobby their government representatives to enact legislation that would conserve the medical resources of the country.

P&S Dean Samuel Lambert added that the condition of P&S was undoubtedly similar to that in every school in the country: “Over 25 percent of the student body has been called as private soldiers in this first draft and the remainder are restive and ready to seek military work in laboratory or elsewhere where their technical training can be of greater service than as a private in the ranks.”

Return to Table of Contents