CAUGHEY, DR. JOHN LYON, JR. (30 May 1904- 4 September 2001) was dean emeritus of student affairs and professor emeritus of medicine at CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY and an innovator in medical education who placed an emphasis on compassionate patient care. Born to John L., Sr. and Olive Strayer Caughey in Rochester, NY, "Jack" Caughey received his undergraduate degree in history from Harvard College in 1925 and a medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1930. While serving as an intern and resident at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center between 1930 and 1937, Caughey also earned a doctorate of medical science from Columbia University in 1935. After his residency, Caughey served as an instructor and associate in medicine at Columbia University until 1945. During WWII, Caughey served the Office of Research and Development's Committee on Medical Research as a technical aide. It was during this time that Caughey came to know DR. JOSEPH T. WEARN, then professor of medicine at Western Reserve University, and the two first began to discuss the state of medical education. In 1945, Wearn became dean of the school and recruited Caughey to serve as the first assistant dean of students and assistant professor of medicine.
In 1952, Caughey and Wearn, working with DR. T. HALE HAM, implemented a revised curriculum at the school that has been credited with significantly shaping the direction of medical education nationwide. Previously, according to one historian of medical education, the "established practice" structured medical education around disciplines with a concentration on anatomy and laboratory sciences in the first year of study. The revised curriculum organized instruction around body systems (cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, etc.) and, perhaps most revolutionary, introduced the clinical experience to first year (rather than third-year) students. In addition, the revised curriculum encouraged instructors to treat students as junior colleagues, implemented pass/fail grading, and recognized the importance of elective time in a student's overall education. At its core, the new curriculum sought to establish a new culture in medical education that aimed to balance medical science and compassionate medical care, and favored problem solving over narrow memorization. In 1974, Drs. Caughey, Wearn, and Ham received national recognition for their efforts by receiving the Abraham Flexner Award for Distinguished Service to Medical Education from the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Beyond his work in shaping curriculum, Caughey played a key role in molding the educational experience at the medical school in other ways. Between 1945, when he first arrived at WRU, until his retirement in 1974, Caughey served as the primary interviewer of prospective medical students and continued to assist the medical school by interviewing students through 1995. Early on, Caughey broke with conventional practice by considering students with non-traditional backgrounds, including older students, women, and minorities or those with non-science undergraduate majors. Caughey gained a reputation for being a "one-man admissions committee" and his commitment to the potential of his so-called "bent arrows" (non-traditional students) rested on his assessment of an applicant's potential for delivering quality patient care.
In recognition for his work, the Medical School dedicated the John L. Caughey, Jr. MD, Center for the Integration of Science and Medical Care for support of innovation in medical education programs in 1996. Divorced, Caughey had one child, John L. III (an anthropologist at the University of Maryland) and four grandchildren.
Mark Gottlieb The Lives of University Hospitals of Cleveland (1991)
Paul Starr The Social Transformation of American Medicine (1982)
Greer Williams, ed. Western Reserve's Experiment in Medical Education and Its Outcome (1980)