The group, led by William Cullen Bryant, the noted poet, abolitionist and editor of the Evening Post, was particularly concerned with the condition of hospitals and medical education. Bryant was zealously devoted to the branch of medicine known as homeopathy. The school opened its doors on the corner of 20th street and Third Avenue as the New York Homeopathic Medical College. Bryant served as the medical school’s first president and held the office of president of the Board of Trustees for 10 years.
Advancing Medical Careers for Women
In 1863, a separate but related institution known as the New York Medical College for Women was founded by Dr. Clemence Sophia Lozier, staffed and supervised by many of the College’s male faculty. In 1867, Dr. Lozier’s institution graduated the first female Canadian physician, Dr. Emily Stowe, who had previously been refused admission to every medical school in her native Canada. Dr. Susan McKinney, the first African-American female physician in New York State and the third in the nation, graduated from New York Medical College for Women in 1870 with the highest grade in the class. When the institution closed in 1918, students transferred to the College. Thus, New York Medical College makes its claim to be among the first medical schools to admit women.
Metropolitan Hospital and Flower and Fifth Avenue Hospitals
In 1875, Metropolitan Hospital opened as a municipal facility on Ward’s Island, staffed largely by the faculty of New York Medical College. Today that relationship is one of the nation’s oldest continuing affiliations between a private medical school and a public hospital.
The Flower Free Surgical Hospital, built by New York Medical College in 1889, was the first teaching hospital in the country to be owned by a medical college. It was constructed at York Avenue and 63rd Street with funds given largely by Congressman Roswell P. Flower, later governor of New York. By 1935, the College had transferred its outpatient activities to the Fifth Avenue Hospital at Fifth Avenue and 106th Street. The College (including Flower Hospital) and Fifth Avenue Hospital merged in 1938 and became New York Medical College, Flower and Fifth Avenue Hospitals.
Nation’s First Minority Scholarship Program
In 1928, the College became the first medical school in the nation to establish a scholarship program specifically for minority students through the efforts of Walter Gray Crump Sr., M.D. An alumnus and voluntary faculty member who participated vigorously in the academic life of the College, Dr. Crump taught surgery, served as a staff surgeon at other hospitals, was a founder of the New York Medical College for Women, was a trustee of Tuskegee Institute and Howard University and assumed a leading role in the advancement of minority education and minority affairs.
Growth of Graduate Education
The College’s Certificate of Incorporation was amended in 1938 to include authority to award graduate degrees in addition to the M.D., specifically, a master of science in medicine, a doctorate in medical science and a doctorate in public health. College archives, however, record scheduling of advanced courses and research activity as early as 1910 and offerings of graduate courses in surgery and medicine to residents in the 1920s. In 1963, the Graduate School of Medical Sciences was founded, establishing for the first time graduate education within a school separate from the medical curriculum. The Board of Trustees renamed the school the Graduate School of Basic Medical Sciences in 1969.
The Move to Westchester County
The advent of new technologies in the ’60s and ’70s made it increasingly expensive to operate Flower and Fifth Avenue Hospitals. In addition, the College was subsidizing faculty salaries to supplement private practice income. Around the mid-1960s, New York Medical College began to consider relocating its campus. After reviewing several options, the Board of Trustees voted to accept a proposal from Westchester County to apply for a federal grant that would fund nearly half the expense of creating a new medical center on the grounds of the existing Grasslands Hospital. College administration moved to the Valhalla campus in August of 1971 and in 1972 the new Basic Sciences Building was open.
The Relationship with the Archdiocese of New York
At this critical time in the College’s history, the Board of Trustees attempted to interest the Archdiocese of New York in College affairs. In 1978, Terence Cardinal Cooke, Archbishop of New York, agreed to foster a relationship. He perceived that affiliation with a medical college would be important to the continued excellence of an extensive Catholic hospital system. The Archdiocese helped the College restructure its debt on more favorable terms, strengthened the Board of Trustees and added many Catholic hospitals to the College’s affiliations. It also assumed operation of Flower and Fifth Avenue Hospitals, converting the facility into a specialty hospital serving the developmentally disabled. (It is presently known as Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center.) In 1980, intercession by the Archdiocese was critical in preventing the city from closing Metropolitan Hospital, the College’s oldest affiliation.
Decade of Achievement
During the “Decade of Achievement” (1978-1988), the size and stature of faculty, quality and amount of funded research, caliber of students and improvements in medical care afforded to people in communities served by the College increased significantly. Hospital affiliations grew to 34 in number, affording medical students a wide range of clinical training opportunities. National Institutes of Health research grant and contract awards more than doubled; sponsored programs (research, training and service) and New York State appropriations grew to a record level of $23 million. The Graduate School of Health Sciences now known as the School of Health Sciences and Practice (SHSP) was founded in 1980 to respond to the growing regional and national need for healthcare professionals.
The College’s progress, distinguished by a marked increase in the academic quality of the student body, continued. In 1992 the College launched a strategic planning initiative. For almost three years, the academic community engaged in intensive committee meetings, retreats, focus groups and surveys intended to clarify the institution’s strategic vision and direction. The resulting strategic plan, approved by the Board of Trustees, served as the foundation for the College’s reengineering efforts and is a valued reference document for program planning and resource allocation. Early in the decade, the Board of Trustees recognized that the nation’s demand for healthcare professionals would soon exceed supply and began to focus attention on the School of Health Sciences and Practice (then, the School of Public Health). The College charged the dean with responsibility for revitalizing the School and expanding program offerings. Within a few years, enrollment increased by more than 50 percent and currently exceeds 600 students. In 1997, the School’s new physical therapy program was accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. Subsequently, a master of science program in speech-language pathology began in 1999.
Leading the nation in response to a shortage of primary care physicians, the School of Medicine developed a program with the goal of doubling the number of medical school graduates who, after completing their residencies, enter generalist practices. The program, known as the generalist physician initiative, was awarded major funding from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, one of only 14 nationwide so designated. One innovative aspect of the generalist physician initiative, offered in conjunction with academic health center partner Saint Vincent’s Hospital and Medical Center of New York, affords eligible fourth-year medical students an opportunity to begin a residency program in Internal Medicine and thereby complete training in six years rather than the traditional seven.
By the middle of the 1990's, the College had secured its first accreditation by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, concurrent with the School of Medicine’s re-accreditation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. This was followed a few years later with Accreditation as a School of Public Health. A longtime student concern – on-campus housing – was addressed with the completion of new construction to accommodate an additional 300 students. A renovation of a campus building into a state-of-the-art Learning Center comprising classrooms, a computer laboratory and small group study rooms was also completed.
As the College strengthened, the need for a chief academic officer became more apparent. In 1995, the College appointed a provost to serve in this capacity.
The School of Medicine recorded large research grants during this period for the study of endothelial cells, for the study of cellular immune reactions significant in cancer, for studies on hypertension and hormones relevant to the regulation of blood pressure, for research in cardiovascular and renal disease, the neurosciences, and infectious diseases. In 2001, the College completed construction of a new $24 million Medical Education Center and renovation of the Basic Sciences Building, the hub of campus research activity.
The Change in Sponsor and the New Relationship with Touro College and University System
As a result of several years of operating deficits and the increasing recognition that as a freestanding medical institution there was a need for a university or health system sponsor to achieve positive synergies in education and medical research, the College actively sought a sponsor able to make a significant investment in the institution and actively offer expanded educational opportunities. The Archdiocese of New York, the sponsor of the College since 1978, had moved its health care ministry away from acute care hospitals, and as a result of this change in Archdiocesan mission, joined the College in seeking a nonprofit sponsor to take its place in fostering NYMC’s growth and prosperity.
After engaging in extensive negotiations and due diligence, the Archdiocese of New York and Touro College reached an agreement in late December 2009 for Touro to replace the Archdiocese as the sponsor of New York Medical College. The transaction was completed in mid-May 2011. According to the terms of the transaction agreement, the College will continue to operate as a separate institution, with the authority to appoint the College’s Board of Trustees being transferred from the Archdiocese to a new entity organized by Touro (NYMC, LLC).
Touro is a system of non-profit institutions of higher and professional education. Touro College was chartered in 1970 primarily to enrich the Jewish heritage, and to serve the larger American and global community. Approximately 19,200 students are currently enrolled in its various schools and divisions. Touro College has 30 campuses and locations in New York, California, Nevada, Berlin, Jerusalem and Moscow. New York Medical College; Touro University California and Touro University Nevada; Touro University Worldwide and its Touro College Los Angeles division; as well as Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Ill. are separately accredited institutions within the Touro College and University System.
Onward and Upward
In fall 2016, the campus celebrated a major event: the opening of the Touro College of Dental Medicine at New York Medical College (TCDM). The import of this event was not lost on the attendees at the official opening of the school:
“Today we are celebrating the tenacity to pursue an audacious vision,” said Rabbi Krupka, executive vice president, in his grand opening remarks on September 28 when TCDM officially opened its doors on the NYMC campus, welcoming 111 students to the first new dental school in New York State in nearly 50 years and the first dental school under Jewish auspices outside the state of Israel.
And what a school it was. Built partly in response to New York State’s scarcity of dentists to serve the population – in 2016, nearly 20 million state residents lacked basic dental care – TCDM featured state-of-the-art facilities with a progressive curriculum designed to prepare general dentists for the 21st century.
The dental school took residence in the College’s 19 Skyline Drive building, acquired in 2013. The expansive fourth floor was converted into 50,000 square feet of classrooms, lecture halls, simulation laboratories and training facilities as well as student commons and offices. The third floor of the building was transformed into an advanced digital simulation lab for student training, featuring a sea of computerized dental simulation stations, one per student. Each station included a mannequin “patient” with replaceable dentitions as well as individual computer screens enabling each student to watch an instructor demonstrate a procedure from anywhere in the room.
In January 2018, the TCDM opened a community dental clinic offering affordable, quality dental services to regional residents in need. This reinforced NYMC’s long-standing commitment of offering clinical care and service to the community, while giving third- and fourth-year dental students significant opportunity for hands-on clinical experience.
In May 2017, NYMC signed a 12-year Academic Affiliation Agreement with the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth), renewing and strengthening the partnership that had been forged with NYMC’s move to Westchester County in 1971 and expanding the prior agreement between the two institutions, signed in 1994. Under the new agreement, WMCHealth’s Valhalla hospitals – Westchester Medical Center, Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital and the Behavioral Health Center – were named the primary teaching sites for the clinical education of NYMC and Touro College-affiliated programs and NYMC agreed to expand its clinical education to other hospitals in the WMCHealth Network. NYMC and WMCHealth also agreed to collaborate on clinical research, offering both institutions an opportunity for significant impact on the future of healthcare.
In the same month, the Touro School of Health Sciences announced the future launch of a nursing program at NYMC with the signing of a “transfer articulation agreement” with neighboring institution Westchester Community College (WCC). The agreement guaranteed that graduates of WCC’s Associate of Applied Sciences (A.A.S.) in Nursing, would be given full consideration to Touro’s R.N.-to-B.S.N. (Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing) Program at NYMC in the fall of 2018.
The introduction of the Touro’s nursing program at NYMC represented both a return to the past — NYMC had graduated nurses from 1936 to 1962 from the Flower-Fifth Avenue School of Nursing —as well as a promising step toward the future. The curriculum, designed to prepare nurses for enhanced roles in the field, was a natural addition to the College’s portfolio of health sciences schools and programs.
Today, long-time NYMC faculty members and students speak of an outstanding medical education, excellence in teaching, a sense of community and a lasting legacy. They speak of past accomplishments and future expectations. And they speak out of certainty that New York Medical College will remain vital and relevant come what may.