The following HTML text is provided to enhance online
readability. Many aspects of typography translate only awkwardly to HTML.
Please use the page image
as the authoritative form to ensure accuracy.
For the Public Good: Highlights from the Institute of Medicine, 1970–1995
To ensure a continuing body of recognized integrity, responsibility of purpose, and breadth of competence for advice to the Government and the public on questions affecting health.
Dr. Irvine Page is given credit for stimulating the development of the Institute of Medicine. In 1964 he wrote an article called “Needed, a National Academy of Medicine.” He believed that increasing governmental involvement in medicine and lack of communication among researchers, health care professionals, and the business community were leading to conflicting viewpoints on future directions for medicine. Page wrote:
As a beginning, I propose establishment of a National Academy of Medicine, located in Washington, [that would be] truly representative of excellence in all branches of medicine, scientific and administrative, [and] large enough to fulfill the requirements of representation and to meet the protean demands of the modern world of science. . . . The institute . . . [should] be quasi-governmental, [and] carefully structured to provide [the] means of effectively using a working membership. I would envision such an organization as democratic to the point that status is not the prime objective of membership, but rather that it is used as a symbol of excellence, coupled with paying the price [for membership] by active work for an earned respect. . . . I would hope that a National Academy could provide a platform around which some harmony could develop, while concurrently providing the scaffolding for medicine to probe its intellectual, economic, and administrative future[s]. We have already spent too much time and effort either in retrospect or in living for the moment. Now is the time for prospect.
Dr. Page obtained a grant from a private source, assembled a group of about 25–30 people, and held meetings to consider the wisdom of creating a national institution for medicine. Dr. Colin MacLeod, Dr. James Shannon, and Dr. Ivan Bennett were deputized by the group to visit Dr. Frederick Seitz, then president of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), to propose that the NAS consider establishment of a National Academy of Medicine, just as the National Academy of Engineering had been set up in 1964.
Dr. Seitz, who was trying to change his own institution, was receptive to the idea that something should be done and proposed the establishment of a Board on Medicine, which was the highest organizational level in the Academy structure. In 1967, the formation of the Board on Medicine was authorized by the NAS Council, with a mandate to explore the issues and problems presented by the further evolution of medical education, medical sciences, and health services in the context of rapidly changing social, economic, and scientific settings. The Board was to study, analyze, and evaluate these issues and problems as a basis for developing a body of findings and recommendations that could contribute to their resolution, provide guidance for public policy and