Dr Ida S Scudder

One eventful night in 1890, Ida Scudder, then a young girl visiting her missionary parents in South India was asked to help three women from different families struggling in difficult childbirth. Custom prevented them from accepting the help of a male doctor and being without training at the time Ida herself could do nothing. The next morning she was shocked to learn that each of these women had died. She believed that it was a calling and a challenge set before her by God to begin a ministry to the health needs of the people of India, particularly women and children.

Consequently, she went back to America, entered medical training and in 1899 was one of the first women graduates of the Cornell Medical College, USA. Shortly thereafter, she returned to India and opened a one-bed Clinic in Vellore in 1900. Two years later in 1902, she built the 40-bed Mary Taber Schell Memorial Hospital, the forerunner of today’s large, well-known, and well equipped Hospital complex.

Dr Ida S Scudder soon realised that the dire need around her was far greater than what one person could meet. She was convinced that the best way to help the women of India was to train Indian women to serve them. She began in 1903, by teaching several compounders and six years later in 1909, she started the School of Nursing. Her fondest dream came into being, a medical school for women in 1918 which trained licentiates in medicine. It became a Medical College in 1942 through her determined efforts, and men were admitted from 1947.

The Christian Medical College, founded by Ida Scudder, is now one of the leading institutions in India, known all over the world for its excellence in clinical care, medical research and education. ‘Not to be ministered unto, but to minister’ is its motto chosen by the founder and followed by the current staff  in their service to others, beyond consideration of benefit to self, leading the institution today to a real future of hope.

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