Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1893
During the school's first sixty years, obstetrics and gynecology were taught as separate disciplines, although one of the seven founders, Dr. John W. Johnson, was professor of both obstetrics and gynecology from 1893 to 1894. Dr. Johnson continued as a professor and chair of obstetrics until 1896, when he was succeeded by Dr. George H. Washburn (1897-1912).
In 1893 obstetrics was taught via lectures and demonstrations with mannequins. However, by the turn of the century, students were obliged to attend two actual deliveries because of a change in Massachusetts licensure requirements. These were usually observed at either the Suffolk Dispensary, the Tremont Dispensary, or the Mount Sinai Hospital.
By 1913 it had become apparent to Dr. Leo Friedman, then chairman of the obstetrics department, that the school would have to begin teaching obstetrics in cooperation with hospitals. The first such arrangement was made in 1920 with the Evangeline Booth Hospital after the school had agreed to assume the responsibility for the obstetrical staffing and care there. In 1926 the Boston City Hospital agreed to a similar arrangement.
That year Dr. Alonzo Paine was named professor and chair of obstetrics; he went on to serve in that capacity until 1948. Dr. Frederick J. Lynch was then appointed chair of the department, which at that time provided lectures for third-year students while assigning fourth-year students to the obstetrical departments of the Evangeline Booth, Boston City, Cambridge City, Providence Lying-In, Waltham, and Worcester City Hospitals as well as the New England Hospital for Women and Children.
The first chair of the gynecology department, Dr. Ernest W. Cushing, was appointed in 1894. He was succeeded by Drs. George W. Kaan (1915-1921); Stephen Rushmore (1922-1927); and Louis Phaneuf (1927-1953). In 1928 the department began to provide a clinical experience at the Beth Israel Hospital. The little research it conducted at this time was clinical in nature.
In 1957 the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology were combined at Tufts in keeping with a trend among medical schools. Dr. George W. Mitchell, Jr., who had served as gynecologist-in-chief at the New England Medical Center since 1950, was appointed professor of obstetrics and gynecology and chairman of the combined department. Dr. Mitchell's primary objective was to build a clinical base adequate for the teaching of both undergraduate and graduate students. Thus, gynecological examination began to be taught to second-year students as part of physical diagnosis; a six-week clerkship in obstetrics and gynecology was established for third-year students; and electives were developed for fourth-year students. Clinical teaching took place at the Carney, Cambridge, Quincy City, St. Margaret's, St. Elizabeth's, Wesson Women's (Springfield), and Women and Infants' (Providence, Rhode Island) Hospitals as well as at the Maine Medical Center. In 1970 a residency training program in obstetrics and gynecology was established in conjunction with the New England Medical Center, St. Margaret's Hospital, and the Carney Hospital. The Cambridge Hospital began to participate in this program in 1974.
Dr. Mitchell went on to designate subspecialty areas in oncology, maternal and fetal medicine, and reproductive endocrinology. He also organized a productive research program. When he retired in 1981, Dr. Robert Kennison became acting chair.
In 1983 Dr. Stephen Curry was named professor and chairman of the department. Dr. Curry was successful in meeting his goal of providing a qual-ity education for students; he himself was awarded several student citations for the high caliber of his teaching. He also appointed additional faculty and strengthened the obstetrical program at St. Margaret's Hospital.
When Dr. Curry accepted a position at the University of Connecticut in 1989, Dr. Kennison again became the acting chair. Two years later the current head of the department, Dr. Alan DeCherney, a graduate of Temple's medical school, who had trained at the University of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania, was appointed. Dr. DeCherney, a former director of Yale's reproductive endo-crinology division, has held leadership positions in the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the American Fertility Society, the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, the Society of Reproductive Endocrinologists, and the International Society of Gynecological Endoscopy. Since coming to Tufts, he has been successful in reorganizing the programs at St. Margaret's Hospital and the New England Medical Center and in expanding the divisions of reproductive endocrinology and of maternal and fetal medicine. During his tenure, the teaching programs at the Cambridge Hospital and the Baystate Medical Center-which recently opened a new obstetrics-gynecology building - have been strengthened by the addition of new faculty; an obstetrical unit has been developed at the New England Medical Center; and a new St. Margaret's Hospital has been sched-uled to open on the St. Elizabeth's Hospital campus. Moreover, the department has developed a strong research base in gynecological endocrinology and fertility, and faculty productivity has steadily increased with regard to grants and publications. Perhaps most importantly, student interest in obstetrics-gynecology as a potential career has reached an all-time high.
Source: COE, 140-42