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HAM, THOMAS HALE

HAM, THOMAS HALE (19 July 1905-24 March 1987), pioneer in innovative medical education, was born in Oklahoma City, Okla. the son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas H. Ham Sr. He graduated from Lincoln School of Teachers College, New York City in 1923, received a B.S. from Dartmouth College in 1927, and an M. D. from Cornell University Medical School in 1931. Before coming to Western Reserve University in 1950 he worked at Thornidike Memorial Laboratory at Boston City Hospital, and taught at Harvard Medical School. From 1943-46 he served in the Army Medical Corps. During his tenure at WRU Medical School 1950-1974, he was appointed the Hanna-Payne Professor of Medicine and Director of Research in Medical Education. Although widely known for his research on the mechanisms of hemolytic anemias, Ham's major endeavor was the unique medical education curriculum he developed for WRU medical students which was phased in over a period of four years, beginning in 1952. Central to the curriculum's design was the idea that medical students should be treated both as colleagues and clients. To that end, the amount of hard data students had to master was reduced, the opportunity to work with patients was offered early in the program, and students participated in and were responsible for their own education. Ham's model for medical education, considered radical at the time, was adopted nationwide. After retirement from CWRU in 1974, he moved to New Hampshire.

Ham married Fanny Curtis in 1936, and they had 3 children, Thomas Caverno, Margaret Curtis, and Lola Josephine. He died in Hanover, New Hampshire and was buried there.


T. Hale Ham Papers, CWRU Archives.