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Friday 1 November 2013 10:13am

A history of medicine at the University of Otago, 1875–2000

Dorothy Page

Page Anatomy of a Medical School cover imageThe book

What makes a medical school? Certainly not bricks and mortar, essential though they be. People and ever more people, yes. Knowing what to teach and how to teach it, yes. An adjacent hospital, certainly. Partnership with Government, certainly. And, importantly, a host academic institution and a supportive community within which to flourish.

The 10,000th graduate of the Otago Medical School was capped in December 2006. Since the 1970s it has in fact been three schools, based in Dunedin, Christchurch and Wellington. Its graduates include many distinguished researchers and practitioners all over the world.

Modelled on the Edinburgh School, and operating within a relatively new university, the Otago School had a long struggle for resources in a country that was still establishing its home economy. Often only the vision and determination of individual staff carried it forward. And the world in which it operated kept changing, with several revolutions in medicine, technology, and society. As the author says in her introduction, 'It has been an exhilarating journey.'

The author

DOROTHY PAGE was commissioned to write this history on her retirement in 2000. Until then, she was an Associate Professor of History at the University of Otago. With research interests in women's and public history, as well as biography, her publications include The National Council of Women: A Centennial History (1996) and Communities of Women: Historical Perspectives (2002, edited with Barbara Brookes).


'... this strikingly beautiful, readable (and reasonably priced) book is also a work of meticulous historical scholarship … Anatomy of a Medical School is a magnificent integrative achievement that places the changing pedagogy, people and purposes of Otago Medical School within the multiple contexts of western medicine, Empire, New Zealand tertiary education and government health policy, and local and global events; a significant current of subtext is the changing public expectations of medical practice and medical practitioners over a lengthy period. This book is worth reading for its many implicit suggestions for health and history research ...' – Health and History, Vol 10, No. 2

' ... this account of the Otago Medical School works well … Change over time and the ethos of the school are traced through various recurring themes such as student life, sport, and communal activities ... There are also crisp vignettes of many staff members and graduates.' – New Zealand Doctor, 3 June 2009

'This obviously meticulously researched book is written in an easy-to-read manner and will be of great interest to anyone with a medical background ... With anecdotes and stories about deans, professors, some of the teaching staff and some students through the ages, as well as a list of Otago Medical School graduates from 1887 to 2006, many people will find familiar names which will make for some interesting reading and reminiscing.' – Hurunui News, September 2008

Publication details

Hardback, 400 pages, b/w and colour illustrations, ISBN 978 1 877372 24 7, $59.95

Out of print.

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