The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.

THE DIVISION OF THE HEALTH SCIENCES

AT a special meeting in January, 1935, the Board of Regents adopted the following resolutions (R.P. 1932-36, p. 511):

Resolved, That the Division of the Health Sciences be recognized to consist at the present time of the following units and services:

  • Medical School
  • School of Dentistry
  • Division of Hygiene and Public Health
  • University Hospital School of Nursing and subsidiary services
  • College of Pharmacy
  • Postgraduate Education

Resolved, further, That a Committee of the Division be established to consist of the heads of the several units and the Director of the Hospital. This committee shall act as a coordinating agency in accordance with the definition of a "division" as given in Regents' Proceedings, May, 1934, page 348;

Resolved, further, That Dr. James D. Bruce be made Chairman of the Division of Health Sciences in addition to his other duties.

The formal definition of a division set forth by the Regents in May, 1934 (p. 348) was as follows:

A division is a grouping of units and departments for the purpose of coordinating various allied activities, and of developing the general field therein represented along consistent, progressive, and nonconflicting lines. Its function is advisory. Its specific duties of advice and recommendation concern the interrelations of its several curricula, the encouragement of individual research, and the promotion of cooperative investigations.

The Division of the Health Sciences acts in an advisory capacity and is concerned with the teaching and administrative Page  303methods of its various units, with the view of developing a better understanding between them, of increasing their effectiveness, of bringing to the undergraduate an understanding of the unity of the health-science professions, and of stimulating and supporting research in these various contributory fields.

Heretofore, in this and other American universities, the several schools or curriculums concerned with professional education for the health services have been detached and isolated. Each has gone along in its own way with little if any understanding of, and interest in, the educational problems of the other. The students and, in large measure, the faculty in one school do not come into close relationship with those of the others. As a result of this traditional procedure in professional education for the health services, understanding and co-operation between the several educational units do not always exist, and, too often, these attitudes are carried into the practicing professions.

An increasing number of opportunities for meeting with graduates in all health fields through the various programs of teaching has permitted observations of attitudes as well as of degrees of professional fitness. Though much effort has been directed toward lessening the gap between current practices and advancing knowledge, it has become evident that much of the ineffectiveness of professional practice, as well as certain difficulties in social relationships, may be assessed to faulty and immature concepts which have their origin in the undergraduate period.

Although certain of the social sciences may relate only occasionally to the field of health, others in this group — notably sociology, psychology, economics, and political science — are coming rapidly into closer relationship with the health sciences. In order to strengthen the healthsocial relationship, the chairman of the Division of the Social Sciences attends by invitation all meetings of the Division of the Health Sciences.

The development of the divisional idea modifies the usual practices in educational administration. Formerly, the outstanding ability of some individual has marked the inception of a subdepartment which gradually grew into a department and, not infrequently, into an independent administrative unit. Occasionally a definite contribution was made, but not infrequently the result has been a duplication of activities to a greater or lesser degree and an unwarranted increase in personnel and equipment, all of which have added to administrative difficulties.

Retrenchment in expenditures because of periodic drops in institutional income has been made in the easiest, but not always the best, way, through a general reduction in salaries and maintenance. As certain subjects are basic to any program, so certain teachers are equally essential if an acceptable rate of progress is to be maintained. An outstanding faculty will continue to be attracted and retained by a liberal, forward-looking policy and by relative security of position and income. No loyal and interested teacher will abandon a well-planned program on account of a reduction of income which is due to an emergency, but it is equally certain that the individual with a marketable product will not continue his association with an institution which operates on an administrative policy of expediency. Thus, from an administrative standpoint, an assurance against duplication, an appreciation of basic policies, and the nurturing of talent are enhanced by such a division.

The divisional idea is not a new one. It has been experimented with in other institutions, with varying degrees of success. Page  304It is not unlikely that unsuccessful results have been brought about by the attitude of administrators who have believed, consciously or unconsciously, that certain units of the group might well be absorbed by others. This is not our concept. The purpose is to bring about the understanding that there is a natural unity in the health-science professions, and that medicine, dentistry, public health, nursing, pharmacy, and the ancillary services are but parts of the whole. Although the Division has been in operation but a short time, part of which was necessarily consumed by the process of organization, there is increasing evidence that this broadening interest will lead to a professional and social outlook that more adequately equips the graduate for the many-sided obligations of the modern community.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

President's Report, Univ. Mich., 1935-40.
Proceedings of the Board of Regents …, 1932-40.