Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, often known as P&S, is a graduate school of Columbia University that is located in the Columbia University Medical Center in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. Founded in 1767 by Samuel Bard as the medical department of King's College (now Columbia University), the College of Physicians and Surgeons was the first medical school in the thirteen colonies and hence, the United States, to award the Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree. Beginning in 1993, P&S also was the first U.S. medical school to hold a White Coat Ceremony.

According to U.S. News and World Report, P&S is one of the most selective medical schools in the United States based on average MCAT score, GPA, and acceptance rate. In 2011, 6,907 people applied and 1,158 were interviewed for 169 positions in its entering class. The average undergraduate GPA and average MCAT score for successful applicants in 2011 were 3.78 and 35.7, respectively. Columbia is ranked 8th amongst research-oriented medical schools in the United States and ranked 43rd for primary care by U.S. News and World Report. It is currently ranked 5th amongst medical schools in the world by the Academic Ranking of World Universities (Clinical Medicine, 2012). The college also has the highest tuition of any private medical school in the United States.

Columbia is affiliated with New York-Presbyterian Hospital, the nation's 6th-ranked hospital according to U.S. News & World Report.


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Beginning in the fall of 2009, the medical school implemented a new curriculum that differed markedly from more traditional structures. The largest change involved a reduction in the number of preclinical months from twenty-four to eighteen and the expansion of the electives and selectives period to fourteen months. Each student now is required to spend four months working on a scholarly project before graduation.

Student life

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Situated on land overlooking the Hudson River and separated from Columbia's undergraduate campus in Morningside Heights by approximately fifty blocks and the neighborhood of Harlem, the Columbia University Medical Center has its own unique standing and identity. The campus comprises not only P&S, but also the College of Dental Medicine (formerly the School of Dental and Oral Surgery), the School of Nursing, the Mailman School of Public Health, the Presbyterian portion of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital (including the Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital) and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Affiliated hospitals include St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, Harlem Hospital, Stamford Hospital in Stamford, Connecticut, and Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown, New York. A new, 14-story glass medical education tower is currently under construction. Housing options on Columbia's Medical Campus include Bard Hall and the Bard-Haven Towers, a complex of three, 31-story apartment buildings overlooking the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge. Students are guaranteed housing on campus all years, although many students choose to live in other parts of New York City.

P&S Club

P&S is notable amongst U.S. medical schools for its devotion to a diversely talented student body, including world-class musicians, Olympic athletes, and chess masters. There are a host of student clubs covering a range of professional and personal interests, all of which fall under the umbrella of the P&S Club. One unusual element is the Bard Hall Players, a theatrical group entirely run by the students of the medical campus, and one of the largest and most active medical school theater groups in the country. They perform a musical and two plays each year. Founded over a century ago by John Mott, the 1946 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, the P&S Club serves to support and provide activities and organizations for the enrichment of the lives of P&S students. The P&S Club is well known for its humanitarian aims; most notably the 1917 purchase of a steam launch delivered to Sir William Grenfell, a physician living in Labrador. This launch was used to deliver medical services to the Inuit and First Nations fishermen living on the islands of the Labrador coast and frequently, was manned by P&S students.


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Colonial years

In 1767, Samuel Bard, an alumnus of King's College (now Columbia University) and the University of Edinburgh Medical School opened a medical school at Columbia. At the time, the medical program at King's College was the first to open in the Province of New York and only the second to be opened in the American Colonies. The school was modelled on the University of Edinburgh Medical School, which at the time was the world leader. Three years later, in 1770, King's College conferred its first medical degree to Robert Tucker, this would prove to be the first Doctor of Medicine awarded in the Thirteen Colonies. Prior to King's College of Medicine offering of the M.D. degree, other American and Canadian medical schools had been offering the M.B. degree. King's College continued to educate young doctors until 1776, when the school was forced to close due to the onset of the Revolutionary War and the occupation of New York by British soldiers. King's College remained closed until 1784 when the school was reopened as Columbia College and in December of that year the faculty of the medical school were re-instated. In 1791 Dr. Samuel Bard, a prominent colonial physician whom George Washington credited with saving his life, was named dean of the medical school.

Merger with the College of Physicians and Surgeons

In 1807, with a growing young nation in need of adequately trained phyicians, the New York State Board of Regents founded, under separate charter, the College of Physicians and Surgeons. Merely four years later, in 1811, Dr. Samuel Bard, dean of Columbia University Medical School, became president of the College. The year 1814 then saw the merger of Columbia University Medical School into the College of Physicians and Surgeons, a move that was made in an attempt to reverse what then was perceived as a period of decline for the medical school. Despite this merger, the College of Physicians and Surgeons retained its independence from Columbia and it was only in 1860 that the College of Physicians and Surgeons, at that time occupying buildings across West Fifty-ninth Street from the Roosevelt Hospital (its major teaching hospital at the time), after severing its ties to the New York Board of Regents and through agreement between the trustees of the College of Physicians and Surgeons and Columbia, became the official medical school of Columbia University. This new relationship between the college and Columbia was minimal at best, however, with the college retaining independence from Columbia. It was not until 1891 that the College of Physicians and Surgeons would be fully integrated and incorporated into Columbia. In 1886, the Sloane Maternity Hospital, later the Sloane Hospital for Women, was founded as part of Physicians and Surgeons.

Medical Center Formation

In 1911, Columbia University entered into a "Formal Agreement of Alliance" with Presbyterian Hospital, a hospital founded in 1868 by James Lenox a New York philanthropist. It was this alliance that helped to pave the way for the creation of a new medical center format. In 1928, the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center opened its doors. Set on land in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center was the first place in the world to provide facilities for patient care, medical education, and research all under one roof. It was the first academic medical center and pioneered the practice of combining medical training with patient care. Included in this project with Presbyterian Hospital were the Babies Hospital, the Neurologic Institute of New York, and the New York State Psychiatric Institute; these were then joined in 1950 by the New York Orthopaedic Hospital.

In 1997, the Presbyterian Hospital merged with New York Hospital (partner of Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University) to form the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. This new hospital system also has incorporated many of the satellite hospitals and affiliated programs of these two institutions. While the two medical schools remain independent of one another, there has been significant cross-fertilization between the two campuses, leading to increasing numbers of shared research experiences and training programs. NYPH is now the largest private employer in New York City. All hospitals in the NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System are affiliated with either the Cornell or Columbia medical schools.

Prominent faculty

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Prominent faculty members include Nobel Prize laureates Richard Axel and Eric Kandel; cardiothoracic surgeon, author, talk show host, and commentator Mehmet Oz; author Oliver Sacks; 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner for nonfiction Siddhartha Mukherjee; and Rudolph Leibel whose co-discovery of the hormone leptin, and cloning of the leptin and leptin receptor genes, has had a major role in the area of understanding human obesity.

Notable alumni

Medical innovators

  • Virginia Apgar (Apgar score)
  • Oswald Avery (pioneer in immunochemistry)
  • T. Romeyn Beck (pioneer in medical jurisprudence; authored first significant American book on forensic medicine)
  • H. I. Biegeleisen (pioneer of phlebology; one of first doctors in United States to use injection as a method of treating varicose veins; coined the term sclerotherapy)
  • Thomas Berry Brazelton (pediatrician, Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale)
  • Charles Drew (ground-breaking work in blood transfusions, blood storage, large-scale blood banks)
  • Tom Frieden (Director of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); New York City Health Commissioner)
  • Oliver Wolcott Gibbs (chemist; known for performing first electrogravimetric analyses; National Academy of Sciences, President (also a founding member), 1895â€"1900)
  • John Franklin Gray (pioneer in field of and first practitioner of homoeopathy in United States; also recognized as important medical reformer)
  • Peter K. Gregersen (Crafoord Prize in Polyarthritis in 2013)
  • William Halsted (introduced several new operations, one of "Big Four" founding professors at Johns Hopkins Hospital)
  • Jean Emily Henley (wrote the first widely used anesthesia textbook)
  • Robert Lefkowitz (U.S. National Medal of Science, Shaw Prize, 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry)
  • Sean E. McCance (orthopedic surgeon)
  • David McDowell (psychiatrist, author, consultant)
  • Jean Baker Miller (psychoanalyst, feminist, social activist, wrote Toward a New Psychology of Women (1976))
  • Frederick F. Russell (Brigadier General; U.S. Army physician who developed the first successful typhoid vaccine in 1909; Public Welfare Medal)
  • Benjamin Spock (pediatrician, wrote The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care)
  • Albert Starr (2007 Lasker Award; cardiovascular surgeon; pioneer, inventor, Starr heart valve)
  • Paul Stelzer (cardiothoracic surgeon)
  • P. Roy Vagelos (president, CEO, chairman of pharmaceutical company Merck)
  • William H. Welch (one of "Big Four" founding professors at Johns Hopkins Hospital; First Dean, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and School of Public Health)
  • Allen Whipple (Whipple procedure, Whipple's triad)

Nobel laureates

  • Baruch Samuel Blumberg
  • Joshua Lederberg
  • Robert J. Lefkowitz (best known for his work with G protein-coupled receptors for which he won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry)
  • Dickinson W. Richards
  • Harold Varmus (Director, National Institutes of Health; Director, National Cancer Institute; President, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center)


  • Jacob Appel (2004 William Faulkner â€" William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition)
  • Robert Coles (Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction, MacArthur Award "genius grant", Presidential Medal of Freedom, National Humanities Medal)
  • Robin Cook (100 million+ copies of works in print)
  • Jerome Groopman
  • Walker Percy (National Book Award for Fiction, "Time 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005")
  • John E. Sarno (originator of the diagnosis of psychosomatic condition, tension myositis syndrome)


Other alumni include astronaut Story Musgrave, Olympic champion Jenny Thompson (twelve medals, including eight gold medals), former Afghan prime minister Abdul Zahir, mayor of the City of Rancho Cucamonga, California (2006â€") Don Kurth, and philanthropist Jean Shafiroff.

Serb politician and accused war criminal Radovan Karadžić studied at Columbia for a year. Former NBA player Mark Pope attended P&S, but left to coach college basketball.

In fiction

  • Derek Shepherd, Mark Sloan, and Addison Montgomery from medical drama Grey's Anatomy and Sam Bennett and Naomi Bennett from the spinoff series Private Practice
  • Rob Morrow, who plays Joel Fleischman in Northern Exposure
  • Dr. Buckaroo Banzai (Peter Weller) and Dr. Sidney Zweibel (Jeff Goldblum) were P&S classmates in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)



External links

  • Official website

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