Irish Medical Education and Student Culture, c.1850-1950

BookIrish Medical Education and Student Culture, c.1850-1950

Irish Medical Education and Student Culture, c.1850-1950

Reappraisals in Irish History, 8


July 29th, 2020



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This book is the first comprehensive history of medical student culture and medical education in Ireland from the middle of the nineteenth century until the 1950s. Utilising a variety of rich sources, including novels, newspapers, student magazines, doctors’ memoirs, and oral history accounts, it examines Irish medical student life and culture, incorporating students’ educational and extra-curricular activities at all of the Irish medical schools. The book investigates students' experiences in the lecture theatre, hospital, dissecting room and outside their studies, such as in ‘digs’, sporting teams and in student societies, illustrating how representations of medical students changed in Ireland over the period and examines the importance of class, religious affiliation and the appropriate traits that students were expected to possess. It highlights religious divisions as well as the dominance of the middle classes in Irish medical schools while also exploring institutional differences, the students’ decisions to pursue medical education, emigration and the experiences of women medical students within a predominantly masculine sphere. Through an examination of the history of medical education in Ireland, this book builds on our understanding of the Irish medical profession while also contributing to the wider scholarship of student life and culture. It will appeal to those interested in the history of medicine, the history of education and social history in modern Ireland.

'Irish medical education and student culture, c.1850-1950 is much more than a survey of student life in Ireland. It delves into the darker side of a medical education, revealing tensions arising from class, gender, and generational change.'
Dr Ciaran O'Neill, Trinity College Dublin

'The book achieves its stated aim of addressing a gap in the knowledge of the history of medical education in Ireland from the students’ perspective. It should become a valuable resource on a topic that has not been researched in depth previously, although the impact of large-scale emigration of Irish doctors on medical education in Ireland might have merited a separate chapter. It will appeal to those with an interest in the history of medical education, educationalists and women in medicine, to social historians and to the Irish medical diaspora.'
Mike Collins, British Society for the History of Medicine

'Laura Kelly has produced an impressive and valuable study of Irish medical students and their education between about 1850 and 1950. The book ranges widely. As might be expected, it examines the instructors, curricula, and teaching methods at the various medical schools, colleges, and hospitals located in Dublin, Cork, Galway, and Belfast. But the book also devotes much attention to the personal lives of medical students and to what Kelly calls their "culture".'
Bulletin of the History of Medicine

'Drawing on a rich range of sources written by students, and focusing on their experiences, she repositions the student at the centre of medical education to give a ‘bottom-up’ view of university, medical school, and hospital training and life that enriches our understanding of medical education in Ireland between 1850 and 1950. ... In reinstating the voices of male and female Irish medical students, Kelly offers a richer way of thinking about medical education.'
Keir Waddington, History of Education

'Drawing expertly upon collections of memoirs, student magazines, hospital records and oral histories, Kelly captures the rich tapestry of Irish student life and culture.'
Anne Hanley, Social History of Medicine

‘Drawing from an array of print and archival sources…Kelly provides a clear and succinct portrayal of medical education from a student perspective.’
T.P. Power, CHOICE

‘Kelly’s contribution to the history of medical education and, more importantly, her exploration of medical student culture is exemplary. It should be included on any reading list connected to this topic.’
J.T.H. Connor, Canadian Bulletin of Medical History

'A valuable addition to contemporary analytical and contextual medical historiography... the narrative is brisk and engaging.'
Gerard M. Fealy, Nursing History Review

Author Information

Laura Kelly is Senior Lecturer in the History of Health and Medicine at the University of Strathclyde.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
List of Figures7
List of Tables9
List of Abbreviations13
1. The Medical School Marketplace, c.1850–190031
2. ‘Entering upon an Honourable and Important Profession’: Irish Medical Student Image and Representation in the Age of Medical Reform, c.1850–190057
3. Beginnings: Medicine and Social Mobility, c.1850–195085
4. Educational Experiences and Medical Student Life, c.1880–1920118
5. ‘Boys to Men’: Rites of Passage, Sport, Masculinity and Medical Student Culture, c.1880–1930151
6. ‘This Feminine Invasion of Medicine’: Women in Irish Medical Schools, c.1880–1945184
7. Medical Education and Student Culture North and South of the Border, c.1920–1950214