Commentary: Understanding the Flexner Report

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In this commentary, the author discusses medical education reform before Abraham Flexner's 1910 report, Medical Education in the United States and Canada, the reforms for which Flexner campaigned, and the report's impact on the future of the discipline. To honor Flexner's contributions to medical education, the author then exposes the myths that surround Flexner's ideals and accomplishments 100 years later. The author argues that Flexner's achievement lies in how he transformed medical education reform into a broad social movement, aligning it with John Dewey's popular “progressive education” movement, and in how Flexner succeeded in establishing the university model as the standard for all medical schools. The author also argues that Flexner, at the most fundamental level, stood for academic excellence and public service in medical education. This dedication, the author argues, is Flexner's greatest legacy and a commitment that should continue to shape the future of the discipline.

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