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From the Rush Archives: The Role of the Preceptor at Rush Medical College, 1890s

by Nathalie Wheaton on 2021-01-12T09:00:00-06:00 in Archives, History | 0 Comments

-Post assisted by former Rush Archives Work Study Student Kirsten Petrarca, Doctoral Student in Audiology, Rush University.

Rush University students are fortunate to learn from highly-qualified health professionals across a range of specialties at Rush. These preceptors – although we might work with some of them for only a short period of time – are significant contributors to our education and future practice.

From Corpuscle newsletter, Nov. 20, 1891In 1891, I. B. Washburne, M.D., Rush Medical College, class of 1877, addressed the Alumni Association of Rush Medical College regarding the role and responsibilities of the preceptor to the student. According to Dr. Washburne, the duties of the preceptor included, among many:

  • To ensure that the student was in good health and had a good English education,
  • To ensure that the student was motivated,
  • To discuss their expectations with the student, and
  • To teach the student how to “not be a financial failure.”

Over a century later, what do we see as the responsibilities and duties of our preceptors?

CAPTION: Dr. Washburne's full remarks (over three pages!) were reproduced in Rush Medical College's student and alumni newsletter, The Corpuscle, November 20, 1891. [1]

Dr. Washburne believed a preceptor should also lend practical advice beyond medicine: 

"...After the student has completed the prescribed course and received his diploma, which is only a certificate of that fact, he should look to his preceptor for further instruction. The preceptor should give him the benefit of his experience and teach him how, not only to become a successful practitioner, but should teach him how to manage his business so that he would not be a financial failure..."

The Rush Medical College yearbook, The Pulse, featured a poem, "Preceptors," in 1895. This poem juxtaposes the idealistic image the preceptor hopes to impose on a student against the reality the preceptor's friends would share with the student! 

Preceptors poem from the Rush Medical College yearbook, The Pulse, 1895CAPTION: "Preceptors" in the Rush Medical College yearbook, The Pulse, 1895

The "Mr. Gould" mentioned in the poem was Rush Medical College's steadfast college clerk, Frank Jordan Gould, who served in that role from 1874 until his death in 1897. Gould (1844-1897) [pictured, right] was a much beloved figure among the Rush students. He had living quarters in Rush Medical College's Laboratory Building (where Rush's current Cohn Research Building stands now.)

Alumni visited Gould whenever they visited campus and were always impressed by Gould's ability to remember former students, addressing them by name and remarking on their families. An obituary in the Rush Medical College student and alumni newsletter, The Corpuscle, June 1897, [3] paints a warm picture of Mr. Gould.

Frank J. Gould, Rush Medical College's college clerk, from The Corpuscle, July 1897Want to learn more about the history of Rush or the Rush Archives collections? Explore the Rush Archives website, or contact the archivist, Nathalie Wheaton, MSLS. Follow us on Twitter! @RushArchives

All documents and photographs belong to the records collections of Rush University Medical Center Archives, Chicago, Ill. Contact the archivist for permissions and full citations.




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