Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore for the past 110 years is serving the healing ministry of God, through excellence in medical education, service and research. Dr. Ida Sophia Scudder started this institution in 1900 as a single bedded dispensary and extended into a 40 bedded hospital in 1902 (Mary Taber Schell Hospital).Abandoning all her youthful desires, in response to the deaths, on a single night, of three young women in childbirth for want of a woman doctor. God used her great zest for life, optimism, and indomitable spirit to lead her to dream, dare and create CMC.

She continued her work in the dispensary and also started training women as compounders in 1903(India’s first training course for compounders). Sensing the need of the medical services, the “ road side” clinics were begun, taking services to the village and hamlets outside Vellore in 1906. By mid 1910’s these roadside clinics had graduated to an institution and are the precursors of today’s outreach programs, namely CHAD, RUSHA, LCECU and CONCH.

With the uncontrollable and increasing patients’ crowd in Mary Taber Schell Hospital, the idea of opening a medical school was happened to Dr. Ida. In 1918, She started the school with 17 women students and with her tireless effort and dedication, it was upgraded to a women’s medical school in 1942 and finally became the Christian Medical College both for men and women in 1947.

The biblical motto, “Not to be ministered unto, but to minister” gave by Dr. Ida is carved in the mind and soul of every student and staff of this institution, now and then, and forever which reflect deeply in their services and activities.

Education and students care

The Christian Medical College is an unaided, non-profit, educational institution enrolling students all over India on merit basis. Two separate libraries are provided for the students, the Dodd memorial library and the Gault library in hospital and college campus respectively. A wide range of scientific journals, e-learning facilities, MEDLINE system for literature search, internet facilities are provided within the library. Apart from the educational facility provided to the students, a parental care is also provided. Each student has a ‘foster family’, a staff family to take care of them. For the students studying in CMC, it’s a home far away from their home. Students can avail medical facilities of Staff Students Health Service (SSHS) or at CHAD, the rural hospital.

Along with the quality education, the students are involved in other extracurricular activities like music, dance and sports. PEGASUS, an intercollegiate meet organized by the students every year not only give a space to prove their talents, but also enhances their abilities. The other events like music competition, dance competition and hostel day functions are of encouragement and entertainment to the students. CMC believes that faculty development is an essential part in providing quality education. Every year a faculty is honored with the ‘Best Teacher Award’.

The institution believes that the quality work is derived from its dependence on God. Ministering to the spiritual needs of the patients and the spiritual nurture of staff and students are central to its entire programme. The central location of the chapels, both in the college and the hospital, reflect the centrality of worship in the life of the community. Staff and student retreats led by eminent Christian thinkers are an important feature of the spiritual nurture of the community.

The college now offers nearly 150 different post graduate courses in the medical, nursing and allied health disciplines, including PhD courses. A total of nearly 2000 students are enrolled every year. The hospital serves over 2600 beds for inpatients and 6000 outpatients daily, with 67 wards, 92 clinics each day and 121 departments/units. Each year 100 students are admitted for the undergraduate medical course MBBS.

Research

Research gains its importance when it reaches the society in a useful way in improving the health of the people. CMC always proved it through the breakthroughs contributed. The work on leprosy, AIDS, tropical spruce, diarrhea in children and immunization are examples of such need based research has proved its unique contributions.

In 1948, the world’s first reconstructive surgery on leprosy patients was done by the British surgeon and the pioneer of reconstructive surgery Dr. Paul Brand, who pictured leprosy primarily a disease of the nerves. Dr. Paul Brand epitomizes the spirit of enquiry that research in CMC envisions: research that is meticulous and passionate, yet appropriate and relevant to the context of our nation and the people we serve.

Several notable contributions have been made to medical science in fields of Leprosy, Rehabilitation and Reconstructive Surgery, Cardio-vascular surgery, Neurochemistry, Neuro-physiology, Gastroenterology, Child Growth and Development, Microbiology, Population studies, Haematology, Oncology and Virology at CMC.

As years passed by, the development in research went higher than the expectations. Center for stem cell research was started in 2007. South Asian Cochrane Network Centre and also an internationally recognized Infectious Diseases Training and Research Centre are witnessing to the growth of remarkable research activities in CMC and its contribution to society.

Every year in the month of October ‘Research day’ is conducted to encourage and support the young researchers. To recognize and encourage the researchers, every year institution awards the “The Rev. Fr. Lourdu M. Yeddanapalli S. J. Medal” a Scientist in the Christian Medical College, Vellore who has made an outstanding contribution to basic or applied sciences in India. The Senatus of CMC has instituted another award of a gold medal for the best paper published every year by a junior member of the faculty. To promote the undergraduate researchers, a prize is awarded each year to the undergraduate student who submits the best research paper. The Indian Journal of Medical and Paediatric Oncology (IJMPO) award was established to recognize the outstanding research conducted by a post-graduate student during his or her training in the Christian Medical College, Vellore. The IJMPO award was instituted with support from the Indian Journal of Medical and Paediatric Oncology.

Service to the society

Dr. Ida Scudder started this institution with a motto to serve others and the institution strongly believes that, “Service to Mankind is service to God”. CMC has over 7600 staff, including 1200 doctors and 2400 nurses, who dedicated themselves in serving the society through this healing ministry of God. The service is motivated and expanded through the outreach programs in and around vellore.

In 1948, under Dr. H.M Lazarus and Dr. R.G Cochrane the Rural Medical and Leprosy Unit was started, later called as Kavanur Rural Health Center at 30 kms in the K.V. Kuppam block. The programme initially focused on three villages and was later expanded to cover 90 villages in the K.V Kuppam Block in Gudiyatham taluk of Vellore district. The emphasis was on developing a need based rural medical programme, taking into consideration the health and social problems of rural people. RUHSA (Rural Unit for Health and Social Affairs), as it is today, was started in 1977 as a special project of CMC targeting social and economic empowerment under Dr. Daleep Mukarji, and in 1985 it was integrated into CMC as one of its departments.

The rehabilitation center was due to Dr. Mary Varghese in 1966; at college hill campus was a precious page in the history of CMC. Regardless of the major injury happened to her in 1954, with her perseverance and support from Dr. Brand, she started doing surgery, though she was paraplegic.

Established in 1987, College of Nursing and Community Health (CONCH) is a primary health care programme led and managed by nurses. It focuses on a population of 63,199 persons living in 22 villages and 23,000 persons living on the urban periphery of Vellore city. Thus, home visits form the basis of this outreach programme. CONCH also works with the District Health Administration and NGOs to implement government health projects and train health personnel.

Community Health and Development (CHAD) comprises the Department of Community Health and its 130 bed flagship hospital that caters to the surrounding rural, semi-urban and tribal population. This includes the Kaniyambadi Block (82 villages), Jawadhi Hills (120 tribal hamlets), and urban areas such as Kansalpet, Saidapet, Sreenivasanagar, and Kagithapattarai. It provides leadership and training to several community development projects in the villages, and was the recipient of the WHO 50th Anniversary Award for the best institution providing primary health care. It is also a pioneer in community based education, with comprehensive undergraduate and post graduate programmes, in Epidemiology, and Public Health.

Established in 1983, the Low Cost Effective Care Unit (LCECU) caters to the health needs of the urban poor of Vellore City, particularly those living in slums. It provides an excellent model of cost effective health care, without undue reliance on sophisticated technology, yet providing accessible and comprehensive health care. Community outreach is also an integral part of the LCECU, as one of its mandates is to develop partnerships with people. Through the Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) and trained volunteers, the LCECU seeks to work towards the broader goals of inclusive and equitable health care. This is done through outreach activities which include health camps, community based clinics for the elderly and the disabled, and community meetings for young mothers. Teaching is also an integral part of the LCECU, sensitizing students to the practice of family medicine.