Abraham Flexner's focus on science in medical school curricula was not intended to exclude or marginalize the importance of service in training American physicians. The erosion of service in academic medicine in the century after his report was the result of forces as wide ranging as research priorities, health care financing, and industry's influence. The authors review the historical context of these changes and make the case that reintroducing service into medical school curricula has never been more important. They describe the impact that neglecting service has had on society, patients, the medical profession, medical students, and medical education. After defining what is meant by social, public, or community service, they go on to detail signature programs at University of Texas Medical Branch, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, and Mount Sinai School of Medicine, focusing on the two major categories of health care delivery and education. These examples, in geographically and demographically disparate schools of medicine, demonstrate that it is possible to successfully reintegrate service into the missions of academic medical centers and medical schools.
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