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History of Rush Medical College

 RMC 1890  

Rush Medical College has a long and storied history within the city of Chicago.

In 1836, Dr. Daniel Brainard arrived from the East Coast to see that Chicago was in dire need of physicians and a medical college where they could train.

In March of 1837, two days before Chicago was chartered as a city, its first medical college, Rush Medical College, received its charter.
Named in honor of Benjamin Rush, MD, a physician, statesman and signer of the Declaration of Independence, Rush Medical College grew with Chicago.  

By the beginning of the 20th century, Rush was among the nation's largest and most distinguished medical schools, functioning at times independently and at times jointly with larger Chicago universities. From 1924 until 1942, Rush was affiliated with the University of Chicago, bringing Rush the research-academic connection central to 20th century medical school organization.

In 1942, in the face of World War II and the dissolution of Rush’s affiliation with the University of Chicago, Rush suspended its pre-clinical program and merely maintained its post-graduate training activities through Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital. After one century in service, the college had graduated nearly 11,000 physicians.

Over the years, trustees, alumni and former faculty painstakingly kept the Rush name, reputation and charter alive in hopes of reviving the medical college. Chief among them was Dr. Frederic de Peyster, a 1940 graduate of Rush Medical College and dedicated member of the Presbyterian-St. Luke’s medical staff.  In the late 1960s, Rush Medical College accepted the proposal of Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital President Dr. James Campbell to merge its historic charter with the large teaching hospital and resume accepting medical students.

Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center was born, and Rush Medical College reopened its doors on Sept. 27, 1971, with a class of 66 first-year students and 33 third-year students.

In the more than 40 years since Rush’s rebirth, it has graduated nearly 4,000 physicians and continues to educate students in the tradition of Dr. Daniel Brainard. Today, the college’s future looks bright, as our plans for a transformed Rush campus guarantee that we will continue to grow along with the great city of Chicago.

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