The Medical School of Montevideo was founded by decree of December 15, 1875 with two chairs, the Anatomy and Physiology. The foundation is part of the common education law (1877) and the civil registry (1879) in the struggle that at that time engaged liberal and progressive trends in our country, against the most reactionary redoubts. In that rarefied political environment and with the difficulties that can be imagined by the total lack of resources, they began in 1876, in a small and inadequate premises of the old building of the University, in the street Sarandí corner Maciel, the courses of anatomy and physiology .
Dr. Suñer and Capdevila was appointed first Dean, who was responsible for developing the first curriculum and regulations for courses and exams.
The courses begin in the year 1876 after having won the contest of the calls to the respective chairs, Dr. Francisco Suñer and Capdevila the Chair of Physiology, and Dr. Julio Jurkowski the Chair of Anatomy. Our faculty begins with the teaching of these two foreign doctors, the first Spanish, the second Polish; and so on in the beginning, the majority of the teaching staff would continue to be occupied by foreign doctors: Spaniards, Italians, Germans, and Poles were the ones who promoted the growth of the faculty. This influence is such that deans 1 are all foreigners until 1884 when for the first time a Uruguayan doctor, Dr. José Máximo Carafí, is elected as dean, being the 8th dean who has the faculty.
The first curriculum of the medical career of our faculty approved by the University Council and the Executive Power came into force on May 12, 1877, which set a duration of 5 years of study and to obtain the title of “Doctor in Medicine and Surgery “the presentation and defense of a final thesis was required, which was compulsory until 1902. In addition, the Faculty of Medicine also offered careers as Dentist, Midwife and Flebotome.
The first graduate was Dr. José María Muñoz Romarate in 1881, who is accused of illegally practicing medicine since he had not registered his degree with the Board of Public Hygiene as did all foreign doctors who came to practice medicine in Uruguay . This is one of the first problems that our faculty had to face before the authorities in charge of the comptroller of the exercise of the medical profession, which finally was resolved by obligatorily all graduated doctors register their title in the Board of Public Hygiene. Thus, on April 29, 1882 Muñoz Romarate enrolled his degree to be able to legally practice medicine, as currently do the graduates in the Ministry of Public Health.
That same year there were two other graduates: Adela Parietti gave the approval of midwife and José Scarabini with the approval of the phlebotomist, also with success. All these changes, men, methods, regulations, premises, were accompanied by an increase in the number of students, which in 1886 totaled 92 students: 74 Uruguayans and 18 foreigners.
In those years, by the inspiration of the sage José Arechavaleta (1838-1912), professor of medical botany from the origins of the Faculty, was founded as a result of the studies of Robert Koch and Louis Pasteur a laboratory of bacteriology that Arechavaleta himself directed. This laboratory was the germ of the Institute of Experimental Hygiene, founded in 1896, being the first institute that has the Faculty.
The Institute of Experimental Hygiene moved, in 1935, to its new and modern premises expressly built in the premises of the Hospital de Clínicas; where it remains to date.
With the growth of the student body and the new institutes, a new physical plant is necessary for which, by Law No. 2711 of July 12, 1901, the construction of a new building for the Faculty of Medicine is authorized. Its accomplishment was in charge of the architect Jacobo Vásquez Varela culminating the works at the end of 1910. It was taken as model the Faculty of Medicine of Paris. It contemplates the organization of the Faculty at that time, with two pavilions, one for the Institute of Chemistry and the other for Hygiene, and a larger building with an H-plan, which in one wing houses the Anatomy Institute, in the other to the one of Physiology and the center is occupied by the great amphitheater, the Deanery and the offices. It is the place that, with some modifications, still occupies its dependencies on Avenida General Flores.
The courses in the new building begin in March 1911 during the deanship of Professor Doctor Manuel Quintela.
Clinical teaching also encountered great difficulties at the beginning; the bad will of the Administrative Commission of the Hospital de Caridad was noticed from the first times, hindering the teaching anyway. However, little by little, almost all the Hospital de la Caridad, renamed “Maciel Hospital”, was placed at the disposal of the teaching, as the different services were directed by professors of the Faculty.
In 1908 the Pereira Rossell Hospital was inaugurated, housing children’s clinics and gynecology and obstetrics, all technically dependent on the Faculty; In 1922, the old Beggar Asylum building was installed in the Union, as “Hospital Pasteur”, and several clinics were installed there.
But it was evident that the Faculty had to have a clinical hospital since the agreements with the Ministry of Public Health, although satisfactory in general, forced many limitations in the development of teaching and research. It was necessary to think of a hospital in such an organized way that the assistance was articulated by teaching and research. Dr. Manuel Quintela, being dean, obtained that the Legislative Power approved a project in that sense, in 1926. It was called to contest and in 1930 the fundamental stone of the monumental building of 24 floors that was newly qualified in 1953 was placed, which today it houses almost all the clinics of the Faculty and that bears the name of its initiator: “Hospital of Clinics Dr. Manuel Quintela”.
To complete this panoramic view of the rich history of a century-old institution, it is worth mentioning the creation of the Course of Dieticians (year 1945), the founding of the “University School of Nursing” and the “Graduate School” in the year 1952. In 1956 the School of Nutrition was created and in 1965 the School of Medical Collaborators (already in 1950 the Medical Assistant Section had been created in the faculty) today University School of Medical Technology.
Finally, in the context of this panorama of the history of the Faculty of Medicine, the profound consequences that still persist after the intervention of the University during the military dictatorship can be added: period 1973 – 1985. A central objective of the regime was the disarticulation of the University, isolating it from the social and political context of the country, fostering individualism, limiting research, nullifying the critical and creative spirit inherent in the university demos.
The democratic recovery and therefore the cessation of the intervention did not mean the full restoration of the University with all its values to the full. The measures taken by force for 11 years left sequels that to date have not yet been overcome.