Oral Histories: 50 years of UC San Diego School of Medicine (Bill Jessee)

I’m an alumnus of the class of 1972, the charter class of
the School of Medicine. I applied to several schools
along the West coast, as an undergrad at Stanford. And my first acceptance came in from UCLA, but it was a mimeograph. And I don’t know if you
remember mimeographs, but they were with the purple ink. And it seemed rather impersonal. And a few weeks later I got this really nice, personalized, typed letter from UCSD, signed by Hal Simon, who was the Associate Dean for
Student Affairs at the time. And I thought gee, that’s
a lot more personal than what I got from UCLA. And I had had a really
good interview experience when I came to San Diego, so I decided that despite
the fact that it was new and unproven, it would
be a good place for me. And there were lots of opportunities. Kind of had the medical education that I wanted to craft for myself so I made that choice. And I think it was a good one. We always had.. We had a great time at
the end of our four years kind of roasting the faculty. Eugene Braunwald, who was Chair
of Medicine when I was here, was well known for smoking a pipe and this was back before
people actually said, “You know you shouldn’t
smoke in a hospital.” So I remember vividly
medical grand rounds, Dr. Braunwald would be standing
in the front of the room and surveying the audience, kind of taking mental notes as to
who was there and who wasn’t. Not lighting his pipe, but
he would have it in his hand and in his mouth as sort of a pacifier. Well, in the early days we were
different from other schools because of the good job that had been done at trying to integrate basic
science on the larger campus with basic science in
the School of Medicine. We didn’t really have classes
together, as I gather, happened later on in the
development of the school. But we did have an opportunity to interact with some people who were renowned scientists in biology, chemistry. As a consequence, within my first year of my postgraduate training, I felt like I was well ahead
of most of my fellow residents because of the better grounding I’d had on the basic science side. They may have had more
clinical experience, but for me it was a
really good combination of the great grounding
in the basic sciences that came out of my undergraduate
medical education at UCSD. And then when I went into place that was very deep in clinical resources, I was able to build on that basis and I think it was… again,
for me it was a great choice.

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