Our Medical School at Loma Linda

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Section Titles
Need for Medical College Apparent
Discouraged by American Medical Association
Follow Counsels of the Spirit
Present Achievements Vindicate Counsels
British Schools Open to Alumni
Medical College a Strategic Point

The increasing prominence given medical missionary work in plans for gospel evangelism, as set forth by the spirit of prophecy, has been noted in a foregoing chapter. At first, when we had but few sanitariums, there was little call for physicians in the organized conference work. But in later years, as sanitariums began to multiply, and as broader views of the work opened before us, an increasing number of young men and young women wished to qualify as physicians, not only to fill places in our medical institutions, but to engage in private practice. Others desired to take a medical course that they might use their talents in mission work in foreign lands.

About 1890, a group of such young men were encouraged to attend the medical department of the University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor. But soon the advantages of training these youth for medical work in a school taught by Christian teachers became apparent. For several years Seventh-day Adventist medical students were able to complete their course in the American Medical Missionary College at Battle Creek. But after a time this institution closed its doors, and we again faced great perplexity in giving counsel to those desiring to qualify as Christian physicians in our denominational work.

Then later, for a time, favorable arrangements were made with the medical department of the George Washington University, in Washington, D. C. The school authorities very kindly agreed to require no Sabbath work from our students, to grant them substantial reduction in their tuition rates, together with other favors. At one time we had as high as fifteen of our youth attending this university.

But it was not long until new men were placed in charge of the medical department of the university, and some of these privileges were withdrawn. Sabbath observance, while taking the course at the university, became increasingly difficult, and ultimately impossible.


These experiences led us to realize more fully the need of a medical college of our own. But we did not see how an enterprise requiring so much capital could be undertaken. We were launching out in the greatest foreign missionary program we had ever attempted. We were pushing into the heart of great continents, like South America and Africa, and the islands of the sea. We were pressing our people for every dollar we could get, and we were using about all the money secured as fast as it came to us. We had no reserve capital. How, then, could we finance the establishment and maintenance of a medical college?

Need for Medical College Apparent

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Early in June, 1909, Elders E. E. Andross, J. A. Burden, and R. S. Owen appeared before the General Conference Committee in Takoma Park, as representatives of the College of Evangelists in Loma Linda, California, to ask counsel regarding the future of the school. They pointed out that a number of messages had come from Mrs. White regarding the education that should be given at this place, some of which indicated that both nurses and physicians should be trained there.

As early as December 10, 1905, in a letter of counsel to the manager of Loma Linda, she said:

“In regard to the school, I would say, Make it all you possibly can in the education of nurses and physicians.”—E. G. White Letter 325-1905.

Then again, under date of August 19, 1906, she wrote of Loma Linda:

“A special work is to be done there in qualifying young men and young women to be efficient medical missionary workers….

“Preparations must be made for the school to be opened as soon as possible. Our young men and young women are to find in Loma Linda a school where they can receive a medical missionary training, and where they will not be brought under the influence of some who are seeking to undermine the truth.”—E. G. White Letter 274-1906.

In the Review of June 21, 1906, Mrs. White wrote:

“Loma Linda is to be not only a sanitarium, but an educational center. With the possession of this place comes the weighty responsibility of


making the work of the institution educational in character. A school is to be established here for the training of gospel medical missionary evangelists.”

In a talk at Loma Linda, October 30, 1907, she said:

“Physicians are to receive their education here. Here they are to receive such a mold that when they go out to labor, they will not seek to grasp the very highest wages, or else do nothing.”—E. G. White MS. 151-1907.

A committee of twelve was appointed to give study to the question, and to report back to the General Conference Committee. On July 25 this committee rendered its report. They recommended that we recognize the Loma Linda College of Evangelists “as a special training school for medical missionary workers for the world-wide field, and encourage it to maintain and strengthen its efforts to provide a course of study for the training of workers combining the qualifications of the highly trained nurse with those of the practical evangelist.”

Discouraged by American Medical Association

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As preliminary to consideration of “the suggested plan of adding to their faculty and equipment so as to give one or two years' medical study that would be accepted by a recognized medical college as part of a regular medical course,” definite information was sought regarding three points: (1) the changes involved in making the necessary adaptation of their course; (2) the requirements of such colleges as would affiliate on this basis; and (3) what such a plan would involve financially.

In a meeting at College View, in October, 1909, the future of the school was again considered, and it was—

“Resolved, That we recommend the Board of Management of the Loma Linda College of Evangelists to secure a renewal of the charter for the school, that it may develop as the opening providence and the instruction of the Spirit of God may indicate.”—General Conference Committee Minutes, Oct. 13, 1909.

Owing to the importance of the enterprise at Loma Linda, it was voted by the General Conference Committee that Prof.


Homer Salisbury, then Educational Secretary of the General Conference, should go with me to join with the brethren in Loma Linda in drafting the Articles of Incorporation. As we were passing through Chicago, we stopped to interview Dr. Colwell, the secretary of the American Medical Association. It would be necessary to be approved by this organization, if we were to conduct a medical school.

When we laid before Dr. Colwell our plans, he told us most frankly, yet kindly, that we could never succeed. He reminded us that it would require a very large sum of money to provide buildings and equipment for such an institution. Further, he questioned our ability to assemble a faculty such as would be required. He explained that at that very time the American Medical Association was engaged in eliminating all the “C” grade schools throughout the country, and that they were putting pressure on the “B” grade schools. “Our aim,” he told us, “is to retain only the class ‘A’ medical colleges.” He felt sure that we could not possibly hope to establish anything higher than a “C” grade school, and advised us not to proceed with the undertaking.

Notwithstanding this discouraging outlook, we proceeded to California, and joined our brethren in preparing Articles of Incorporation, which opened the way for the school to develop, so as to grant the degree of M. D. to its graduates.

There still remained some difference of opinion as to the real meaning of certain communications that had come from Mrs. White. In order that they might have a specific, unequivocal statement from her, the delegates, at a meeting of the Pacific Union Conference, held at Mountain View, California, January 24-30, 1910, sought her counsel in the matter. A letter was drafted, which contained the following question:

“Are we to understand from what you have written concerning the establishment of a medical school at Loma Linda that, according to the light you have received from the Lord, we are to establish a thoroughly equipped medical school, the graduates from which will be able to take State Board examinations and become registered, qualified physicians?”—Quoted in Pacific Union Recorder, Feb. 3, 1910.


A prompt answer was received, as specific as the question:

“The light given me is: We must provide that which is essential to qualify our youth who desire to be physicians, so that they may intelligently fit themselves to be able to stand the examinations required to prove their efficiency as physicians. They should be taught to treat understandingly the cases of those who are diseased, so that the door will be closed for any sensible physician to imagine that we are not giving in our school the instruction necessary for properly qualifying young men and young women to do the work of a physician…. For the special preparation of those of our youth who have clear convictions of their duty to obtain a medical education that will enable them to pass the examinations required by law of all who practice as regularly qualified physicians, we are to supply whatever may be required.”—Idem.

A few weeks later, at a meeting of the General Conference Committee, representatives from the Pacific Coast were present, and read to us this clear, plain testimony calling for the operation of a medical school that would meet the requirements of the authorities for the qualification of physicians.

Follow Counsels of the Spirit

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They also brought to us recommendations of the Pacific Union Conference, outlining a plan for the establishment of a medical school on a broad, firm basis. This included a request that the General Conference unite with six union conferences and one local conference in raising the means for its establishment.

As an illustration of the definite guiding influence of the counsel from Mrs. White upon this official conference action, I quote verbatim the first part of the Pacific Union Conference action as reported in the Recorder:

“We Recommend, (1) That, in harmony with the above instruction, we favor the establishment and maintenance of a medical school at Loma Linda, California.

“(2) In order that this medical school may meet the mind of the Lord in doing the work appointed for it by the spirit of prophecy,” etc.

Here was a staggering prospect for us to face. Fortunately for our peace of mind, we could at that time anticipate only a


very small part of the financial demands that would come through the years before the enterprise should near its maturity.

We believed, however, that the Lord had spoken to us. The experiences of the past, some of which have been related here, had served to teach us the lesson that there can be no failure in following the counsel of the Lord. Realizing fully that we were entering upon an undertaking far beyond our apparent ability, we voted on April 13, 1910:

“1. That the General Conference unite with the Pacific Union Conference in establishing a medical school at Loma Linda, California.

“2. That we authorize the officers of the General Conference to appropriate $1,000, or any fraction thereof, for the above purpose during the year 1910.”

Present Achievements Vindicate Counsels

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This first appropriation of funds by the General Conference did not go far. Frequent calls for means, and in increasing amounts, came to us during the ensuing months and years. At times it seemed that we should have to abandon the enterprise. But always in our great need, the Lord provided for us, sometimes in unexpected ways. After meeting the call for dormitories and buildings for classrooms, a laboratory was demanded, if we were to meet the demands of the required syllabus for the final years of the initial class that had enrolled in the medical course. Many other facilities were required, and in view of the discouraging advice given us by the secretary of the American Medical Association, it was but natural, when the time came for him to investigate the work done by the school, together with the competence of its faculty and the adequacy of its equipment, that he should have no prepossessions in its favor. He expressed great surprise and satisfaction with the work we were doing, however, and encouraged us to go on. This man became a true friend to our work, and later aided in lifting the school to the “A” grade.

This medical school, with its division at Loma Linda, where the first two years of medicine are taught, and its division in Los Angeles, with its large hospital, is today the largest medical college west of the Rocky Mountains. There are only about


twenty-five medical colleges in the United States that have a larger attendance.

In the lobby of the White Memorial Hospital, in the city of Los Angeles, is a bronze plate with the inscription:

Is Dedicated to the Memory of
Whose long life was unselfishly dedicated to the
Alleviation of the woes and sorrows of the sick,
The suffering and the needy; and to inspiring the
Young men and women to consecrate their lives
To the work of Him who said, “Heal the sick.”

This tribute to Mrs. White is a fitting reminder of the fact that had it not been for the urgent messages of the spirit of prophecy which came through her, this medical school would not be in existence today. True, there have been liberal gifts and large donations and appropriations. But these have come largely because of the confidence of the donors in the messages that she bore. The loyal and unstinted service of talented physicians and surgeons on its teaching faculty has been indispensable. But in most cases this service has been given as an expression of faith in the program called for by the prophetic gift in the remnant church. Inspired by the same faith, hundreds of young men and young women have passed through its doors, and have gone forth to take their places in the world field. A goodly number are to be found in the Master's service, not only in the United States but also in foreign lands.

At the beginning of the school year, 1934-1935, 115 freshmen were enrolled in our medical school. In the second-year class there were 113; in the third, 80; in the fourth, 96; and in the fifth, or interne year, 84. These make the total enrollment of medical students 488. Including the 84 who will be graduated this year, a total of 906 physicians have been graduated to date.

In addition to students taking the medical course, there are 117 taking the nurses' course, and engaged in nursing work in connection with our sanitarium and hospital.


Each year about 100,000 patients pass through the White Memorial Hospital. Thousands of these are able to pay a small amount for medical attention; but those who are unable to pay anything are given treatments and medicines free.

British Schools Open to Alumni

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Students who have completed the course in our medical college have passed national and state boards, many with high distinction. Early in the history of the school, a graduate who had come from South Africa went to a British university, and so ably represented the quality and character of the instruction given at Loma Linda that the doors of this and other British universities were opened to our alumni for graduate study. With degrees from these medical schools, they may enter and secure recognition throughout the vast British Empire.

Early in 1932, the dean of the Edinburgh University visited and inspected our medical college. After he had looked over our college equipment and the work done in the school, he bore a good testimony for the institution at a banquet given him in Los Angeles. He told the physicians and surgeons present that, although our buildings and equipment were unpretentious, he had formed a high opinion of our school, for he found in it a spiritual element of great value to the medical profession.

In olden times there were schools of the prophets among God's People. The worth and blessing of these schools revealed in some measure the value of the prophets who established and carried on the schools. Measured by such practical and beneficial results, who can fail to recognize the value of the prophetic gift in the remnant church?

The value of this institution to the denominational work and of the hundreds of Christian physicians and nurses that have been and are being trained for service, constitutes, therefore, another witness to the value of the spirit of prophecy as relates to the manifold world-wide work that is being carried forward in proclamation of the soon-coming kingdom.

Not only did Mrs. White appeal for the establishment of our medical college, but she maintained a deepening interest in its


development during the last years of her life. She loved to visit the institution, and to address students and faculty, setting before them the principles that should govern in its work. One brief statement only will be quoted from her, expressing her views regarding the purpose for which the school was developed. August 29, 1911, she wrote:

“The students at Loma Linda are seeking for an education that is after the Lord's order,—an education that will help them to develop into successful teachers and laborers for others. When their education at Loma Linda is completed, they should be able to go forth and join the intelligent workers in the world's great harvest fields who are carrying forward the work of reform that is to prepare a people to stand in the day of Christ's coming….

“Many should seek to obtain the education that will enable them to combat disease in its various forms by the most simple methods. Thousands have gone down to the grave because of the use of poisonous drugs, who might have been restored to health by simple methods of treatment. Water treatments, wisely and skillfully given, may be the means of saving many lives. Let diligent study be united with careful treatments. Let prayers of faith be offered by the bedside of the sick. Let the sick be encouraged to claim the promises of God for themselves.”—E. G. White MS. 15-1911.

Medical College a Strategic Point

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In every great warfare there have been strategic points that constitute keys to the situation, and around which the battle rages with strength and fury. One such key point is our College of Medical Evangelists. In the early struggle for the possession of Loma Linda, and later in raising more than a million dollars for buildings and equipment for the medical school, the enemy has thus far been defeated, so far as the material aspect is concerned. But the battle is still on, and triumph is assured only to the degree with which faculty, students, and helpers are loyal to the basic spiritual principles and ideals that have been set forth in the Testimonies of God's Spirit1 as the basic truths that lie at the heart of the founding concept of our medical school.

1 In this connection, attention should be directed to a manuscript prepared and read by Mrs. White, at the General Conference in 1909, regarding the “Loma Linda College of Evangelists.” See “Testimonies for the Church,” Vol. IX, pp. 173-176.

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