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A History of MUSC

The Medical University of South Carolina has served the citizens of South Carolina since 1824. It has expanded from a small private college for the training of physicians to a state university with a medical center and six colleges for the education of a broad range of health professionals, biomedical scientists and other health related personnel.

College of Medicine

When the Medical College of South Carolina was chartered by the South Carolina legislature on December 20, 1823 it became the tenth medical school in the United States and the first in the Deep South. Founded as a private, proprietary institution by members of the Medical Society of South Carolina, the college’s early faculty bore full financial and curricular responsibility for the institution until 1913 when the state assumed ownership of the school.

The Medical College opened in 1824 with a faculty of seven Charleston physicians and thirty students. The first students graduated on April 4, 1825. The institution has served continuously since its founding, except for a four-year cessation during the Civil War, 1861—1865. Following the Civil War, the college was reorganized and continued to operate, at one point with as few as two students. The 1910 Flexner Report noted that there were 34 faculty, all part time, and 213 students whose fees were the only source of financial support for the school. In late 1913 the state legislature was successfully petitioned to transfer ownership of the school to the state. Incorporation of the medical college as a state institution brought public funding, and allowed teaching and service roles to expand steadily.

Read more about the College of Medicine's history.

College of Pharmacy

By faculty resolution, resulting in an amendment to the charter in 1881, the Medical College created a Department of Pharmacy that was the first of its kind in the Deep South. The School of Pharmacy was organized in 1881, with students admitted a year later. The program was discontinued after two years, then resumed on a permanent basis in 1894, offering the degree of Graduate in Pharmacy. The program leading to a degree of Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy was begun in 1936. A Doctor of Pharmacy degree program was begun in 1973, and a PhD program in pharmaceutical sciences was initiated in 1982 (the latter administered through the MUSC College of Graduate Studies in collaboration with the University of South Carolina.) The MUSC College of Pharmacy, which has been in continuous service since 1894, matriculated its final class under the current program of study in 2005. It continued to operate as an individual College under the aegis of the Medical University of South Carolina until graduation of the class of 2009. Simultaneously, with the 2004 approval of the MUSC and USC Boards of Trustees, the College of Pharmacy integrated with the University of South Carolina to form a joint program through the South Carolina College of Pharmacy (SCCP) beginning with its first matriculated class in August 2006. In 2011, the SCCP expanded to a third campus at Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center.

College of Nursing

The College of Nursing at the Medical University of South Carolina had its origin in 1882 when the City Council of Charleston approved a request by the City Hospital for $2,000 to establish a "Training School for Nurses." The school was opened in 1883 (first students accepted in 1884) and continued operating at the City Hospital until it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1886. It was reestablished as "The Charleston Training School" in 1895. A two-year program of instruction was offered, with some lectures given by the Medical College faculty. In 1904 Roper Hospital took over administration of the program until 1916, when the Board of Commissioners of the Roper Hospital proposed the incorporation of the Training School with the Medical College. In 1919 the Roper Training School for Nurses became the School of Nursing of the Medical College of the State of South Carolina and expanded to a three-year diploma program. In 1966 the School of Nursing began to phase out the three-year program and established a four-year baccalaureate program leading to the B.S. in Nursing. In 1976 the College of Nursing began to offer a Master of Science in Nursing program. The College of Nursing launched a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing in 2001 and a Doctor of Nursing Practice in 2009. 

College of Graduate Studies

Graduate instruction in the basic sciences was offered for the first time in 1949 with programs in anatomy, chemistry, pathology, pharmacology, and physiology. A program in microbiology was added the following year. The first Master of Science degree was conferred in 1951; the Doctor of Philosophy degree was awarded for the first time in 1952. A Committee on Graduate Studies managed graduate training programs until 1965 when the School of Graduate Studies was formally organized as the fourth branch of the institution (joining Medicine, Pharmacy and Nursing). Graduate programs in biometry were initiated in 1970, molecular and cellular biology and pathobiology in 1978, pharmaceutical sciences in 1982, and environmental sciences in 1994.

The College of Graduate Studies began as a Graduate Committee of the School of Medicine in 1949 with Dr. Fredrick W. Kinard as Chairman and the first students admitted in 1950. This program became the School of Graduate Studies in 1965.

College of Dental Medicine

In 1952 the South Carolina Dental Association recommended that a school of dentistry be established as a unit of the Medical College of South Carolina. The state legislature authorized the development of the School of Dental Medicine the following year, but it was not until 1964 that the legislature provided the funds to implement the 1953 authorization. In 1964 John Buhler was appointed dean of the school of dentistry and the school operated in temporary quarters, primarily in Colcock Hall. The school’s new building, the Basic Sciences/College of Dental Medicine building, was ready for occupancy in December 1970. The first students were admitted in 1967, and the first class of twenty-one students received D.M.D. degrees in June 1971.

College of Health Professions

In 1966 the School of Allied Health Sciences, now the College of Health Professions, was formally organized from the Division of Technical Training, a separate branch of the Medical College, to prepare allied health professionals for careers in the growing health care industry. In 1968 the new school awarded its first bachelor of science degrees to one Cytotechnology and four medical technology candidates. Established around the fields of medical technology, radiologic technology, Cytotechnology, inhalation therapy, and a nurse anesthetist program the program expanded to offer over twenty different training options in the paramedical field. In 1984 lower division certificate and associate degree programs were transferred administratively to Trident Technical College (with the College of Health Professions functioning as the primary clinical affiliate). In 1986 the name was changed to the College of Health Related Professions, and in 1993 the name changed again to the College of Health Professions.

Our history of greater than 45 years as a College of Health Professions has enabled us to mature and develop into one of the top Colleges of Health Professions in the country.  Currently offering eight different academic degrees, this College has the largest student enrollment on campus.  The College is committed to excellence in education, research, and service.

There are three departments in the College of Health Professions: Department of Health Professions, Department of Health Sciences and Research and the Department of Healthcare Leadership and Management.  The academic programs offered through the College are: Bachelor of Science in Cardiovascular Perfusion, Master in Health Administration, Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia, Master of Science in Occupational Therapy, Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies, Doctor of Health Administration, Doctor of Philosophy in Health and Rehabilitation Science, and Doctor of Physical Therapy.

MUSC Medical Center

The Medical College of South Carolina was one of the first medical schools in the United States to establish, in 1834, an infirmary specifically for teaching purposes. In the 1840s the college also entered into agreements for clinical training opportunities at the Poorhouse, the Marine Hospital, and the local "dispensary." In 1856, Roper Hospital was opened, and for 100 years Roper was the Medical College's primary teaching hospital.
The Medical College recognized the need for its own facilities to expand clinical teaching opportunities, as well as to serve as a major referral center in South Carolina for diagnosis and treatment of disease. The ten-story Medical University Hospital accepted its first patients in 1955. In 1985 the name of the hospital and its clinics was changed to MUSC Medical Center, reflecting its function in an academic health institution and its wide range of services to the public. This comprehensive facility is now comprised of three separate hospitals (the University Hospital, the Institute of Psychiatry, and the Children's Hospital). The Medical Center includes centers for specialized care (Heart Center, Transplantation Center, Hollings Cancer Center, Digestive Diseases Center, Storm Eye Institute). Numerous outpatient facilities include the Family Medicine Center and affiliated faculty practice ambulatory care centers.

Among the programs which have earned distinguished reputations at the Medical University of South Carolina are neuroscience, substance abuse, cardiovascular medicine, drug sciences, perinatal medicine, ophthalmology, hearing loss, genetics, rheumatology, and cancer care.

In May 2000 the South Carolina General Assembly created the Medical University Hospital Authority to enhance management flexibility and operational efficiency for the University’s hospitals and clinics. This new legal entity, also referred to as the “MUSC Medical Center,” continues to serve under the same Board of Trustees and President.

The MUSC Medical Center, including its Charleston Memorial Hospital facility, is licensed for 709 beds. During 2005-06 there were over 31,500 inpatient admissions and 730,000 outpatient registrations.

In 2007, the MUSC Medical Center completed a 156-bed, 641,000 square foot expansion of its medical center. This additional facility allows the institution to continue providing a growing and aging patient population with the most advanced care available anywhere.

University Status

In 1950 the title of the chief executive officer was changed from dean to president, with separate deans for each of the schools. By the late 1960s, with six fully operational schools of professional education in the health sciences, the Medical College of South Carolina had become an institution of university size and scope. In 1969, the state legislature changed the name to the Medical University of South Carolina. By this act it established MUSC as the state's only free standing academic health sciences center, exclusively providing a full range of professional education, clinical services and biomedical research.

In 1970 the six schools of the university were designated as colleges, each with its separate administration and faculty organization. Each college awards appropriate degrees along standard academic lines connected with its educational activities. All professional education programs and the MUSC Medical Center are accredited by the appropriate professional accrediting agency.

South Carolina Area Health Education Consortium

One of the most pressing problems in health care delivery and disease prevention across the nation is in the distribution of health professionals... The Medical University serves as the "home" institution for the South Carolina Area Health Education Consortium (AHEC), a statewide consortium of teaching hospitals and rural health education centers. Since 1972, the South Carolina AHEC has influenced the education, supply, retention, diversity, and geographic distribution of health care professionals statewide, particularly in smaller, underserved communities. The South Carolina AHEC programs include undergraduate and graduate level medical, nursing, allied health, pharmacy, and dental education, as well as residencies in family medicine and eight other specialties. Continuing education programs are provided each year to more than twenty thousand health care professionals. Primary care and interprofessional collaboration are emphasized in many AHEC-sponsored educational programs. The South Carolina AHEC coordinates a health careers program that encourages 8th-12th graders, from ethnic groups under represented in the health professions, to pursue careers in health care. The South Carolina AHEC also administers the Rural Physician and the Rural Dentist programs, both of which are designed to recruit and retain doctors and dentists for underserved communities.

The South Carolina AHEC helps build partnerships between the university and communities across the state, as evidenced by more than 200 full time faculty members and hundreds more part time and consulting faculty who teach in South Carolina AHEC programs in virtually every county in South Carolina.

Growth in the Past 25 yearsAerial view of campus

In 2013, MUSC had 1,400 full-time faculty members. Expansion in enrollments and programs has been made possible by ambitious programs of physical plant development that have seen the institution grow from one building in 1913 to an 82-acre medical complex, with 95 buildings. Since 1985, ten new buildings have been constructed: East Wing and Children's Hospital (1986), Institute of Psychiatry (1988), North Tower (1993), Harper Student Center (1993), Hollings Cancer Center (1993), The Strom Thurmond Biomedical Research Center and the Gazes Cardiac Institute (1997) in cooperation with the VA Hospital, Basic Science Mechanical Expansion Building (2004), Charles P. Darby Children’s Research Institute (2005), and Ashley-Rutledge Parking Garage (2005), and the Ashley River Tower (2008). In addition there have been major renovation/addition projects including Storm Eye Institute expansion (1998), Rutledge Tower Ambulatory Care Facility renovation (1998), College of Health Professions Complex (2005), Hollings Cancer Center Tower expansion (2005), Colcock Hall (2005-2006), Central Energy Plant (2006) supports phase I of the replacement hospital and additional phases. Recently completed projects include the new James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine Clinical Education Building, the Bee Street Parking Garage, and the James E. Clyburn Research Center, housing the Drug Discovery and Bioengineering buildings and featuring collaborations with the University of South Carolina and Clemson University.

Among our newest buildings is the Ashley River Tower (ART), Phase I Replacement Hospital with 156 beds, focusing on delivering quality heart, vascular, oncologic surgical, and digestive disease services. This brings the total number of beds to 709. The first of its kind on many levels in the Southeast, ART added 641,000 square feet of clinical space and feature a diagnostic and treatment building,patient hospitality tower, and a conservatory designed to connect the two spaces while offering a comfortable gathering place for patients, families and employees.

To summarize the recent, significant changes on campus:

  • Bee Street Parking Garage (2008)
  • Renaming of the Educational Center/Library to the James W. Colbert Education Center and Library (2009) - view online exhibit
  • College of Dental Medicine Dental Clinics Building (2009); Official renaming of the Dental College to James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine (2010)
  • James E. Clyburn Research Center/Drug Discovery and Bioengineering buildings (2011)

Research Funding:

For fiscal year 2011-2012, MUSC received $232,109,898 in extramural funding.  
Office of Research and Sponsored programs report (pdf)

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