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Medical College & Hospital

Medical College, Bengal was the first institution in India imparting a systematic education in western medicine. The British East India Company established the Indian Medical Service (IMS) as early as 1764 to look after Europeans in British India. IMS officers headed military and civilian hospitals in Bombay, Calcutta and Madras, and also accompanied the Company's ships and army. A utilitarian approach and the need to provide expert apothecaries, compounders, and dressers in different hospitals prompted the earliest official involvement with medical education in India. These subordinate assistants would help European doctors and surgeons who looked after the health of European civilians and military employees and also reduce the company's financial burdens by limiting the appointment of European doctors. On 9 May 1822 the government laid down a plan for the instruction of up to twenty young Indians to fill the position of native doctors in the civil and military establishments of the Presidency of Bengal. The outcome was the establishment of "The Native Medical Institution"(NMI) in Calcutta (21 June 1822), where medical teaching was imparted in the vernacular. Treatises on anatomy, medicine, and surgery were translated from European languages for the benefit of the students. From 1826 onwards, classes on Unani and Ayurvedic medicine were held respectively at the Calcutta madrasa and the Sanskrit college. In 1827 John Tyler, an Orientalist and the first superintendent of the NMI started lectures on Mathematics and Anatomy at the Sanskrit College. In general, the medical education provided by the colonial state at this stage involved parallel instructions in western and indigenous medical systems. Translation of western medical texts was encouraged and though dissection was not performed, clinical experience was a must. Trainee medical students had to attend different hospitals and dispensaries. Successful native doctors were absorbed into government jobs.

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