The first hospital in the United States owned and operated by a university was opened in a former professor’s house on the central campus of the University of Michigan in 1869. Surgical operations were performed in the upper lecture room until an operating room was added ten years later. By 1882, the hospital and nearby boarding houses were overcrowded with patients. Ever since that time, universities have played an integral role in the healthcare industry.
In the twenty-first century, nearly 75 percent of M.D.-granting medical schools in the United States are owned and managed by universities. Many of these institutions of higher learning do more than educate the next generation of healthcare professionals; they are also in the demanding business of healthcare delivery.
From New York to Minnesota, Texas and California, medical schools and teaching hospitals are providing a major source of revenue to universities. This has allowed universities to subsidize an ever-growing investment in biomedical research. In addition, university hospitals, clinics, and medical schools generate cutting-edge clinical treatments and provide substantial healthcare to underserved communities.
The United States is home to the world’s highest-ranking universities for medicine and biological sciences. Harvard, MIT, Yale, Stanford, UCLA and Johns Hopkins are among eight of the top ten medical schools in the world. The academic medical institutions situated in these universities serve the public by producing trustworthy, independent research.
Additional research funding is provided by the National Institutes of Health. More than 80 percent of the NIH budget goes to 300,000 research personnel at more than 2,500 universities and medical research institutions.
There are healthcare challenges ahead, as the population of the United States ages and more than 32 million Americans become eligible for medical insurance in the coming years. The success of the healthcare industry is closely tied to the talent and dedication of faculty, administrators and students at university medical schools and teaching hospitals. In the decades ahead, universities will continue to be the leaders of transformational change in healthcare delivery and research.