The Morung Express

‘Not to be ministered unto but to minister’

In this file photo, the founder of Christian Medical College, Vellore Dr. Ida Sophia Scudder (1870-1960) is seen interacting with some of her students. (Picture Courtesy: Christian Medical College Vellore,


Christian Medical College, Vellore attains 100 years of healing mission

Dr. Ida Sophia Scudder (1870-1960)


Morung Express Feature

“Doctors need a sharp mind – but much more than that, they need a warm heart. And CMC Vellore must continue to train doctors and nurses with warm hearts,” India’s President Ram Nath Kovind said formally inaugurating the year-long Centenary celebration of Medical Education at the Christian Medical College, Vellore on May 4.


Complimenting the CMC on the achievement, the President said that he was informed that “medical education programme here combines professional expertise with social relevance and ethical practice.”


“I understand clinical training in your hospital is complemented by placements in villages and underserved areas. This is commendable. Please keep it up. May this be your mission for the next 100 years and more!” Kovind said in his speech released by PIB.


The celebration which started with ‘Service of Thanksgiving’ on January 14, 2018 will continue throughout the year.


The President’s ardent admiration of the institution is not unfounded. An unaided minority educational institution, the CMC, located in Vellore, Tamil Nadu, started as a ‘one-bedded clinic-cum-dispensary in the year 1900 and has grown in both mission and ‘justifiable reputation for excellence’ over the years.


With its motto, “Not to be ministered unto but to minister,” CMC has become one of the most favored destinations for those seeking medical education as well as medical attention. Besides its cutting-edge services and education, CMC is also known for inspiring as well as imparting socially relevant medical education to the students. Today, it is undoubtedly one of the top-ranked educational, healthcare and research institutes in the country.


How It Started: Three Knocks

According to “The CMC Story” posted on its website as part of its centenary celebration, the CMC was started by Dr. Ida Sophia Scudder (1870-1960), the only daughter of second-generation American missionaries.


While there was family legacy of mission works in India, a life of mission and service in India was not something “she wanted for herself” and Ida studied in United States.


However, her mission of life was literally changed and turned around by ‘three knocks’ she experienced while visiting her parents at their home in India.


Three well-to-do men came to the house one after the other, with the same desperate story of their young wives in the throes of childbirth, but unable to deliver.


“Ida had no medical training at that point, and suggested that her doctor-father should go. However, owing to the social and religious customs of the day, each of these men went away sadly, saying that it was impossible for another man to see their wives. With no doctor to look after them, these three women and their babies all died that night,” according to the ‘CMC Story.’


Ida took this as a clear signal from “God that she should strive to help the women and children of India,” it added.
She returned to the US to study medicine and graduated from Cornell University Medical College in 1899. She began her medical work in Vellore in 1900 using one room in her parents’ bungalow as a “one-bedded clinic-cum-dispensary.”


Based on her experience, Ida’s initial focus was on women and children as there were hardly any women doctors in India. In 1902, she opened the 40-bedded Mary Taber Schell Memorial Hospital, built using funds donated by a New York banker, Schell, in memory of his late wife.


While the first formal nursing course was started in 1909, the professional medical training for women began in 1918 with a Licensed Medical Practitioner (LMP) course. In 1924, a new 267-bedded hospital was opened in the centre of Vellore, which has continued to expand there ever since. In 1942, the MBBS degree course was started and in 1947, the medical college became co-educational.


The centenary of medical education is based on the starting of the LMP course (1918) to impart medical training to women.


Today, CMC’s network of primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary care teaching hospitals is spread across six campuses in and around Vellore, and is, together, a 3000-bedded multi-specialty medical institution of international fame.


‘Justifiable reputation for excellence’

For decades synonymous with excellence, the CMC has maintained a fine balance between providing state-of-the-art treatment while being inclusive and minimising the financial burden on patients.


As noted by the President, the officially recognized World’s first re-constructive surgery on leprosy patients was done in CMC in 1948.


India’s first successful open heart surgery and Middle ear microsurgery were also done at CMC in 1961.


The first Kidney Transplant in India and Bone marrow transplant were also carried out at the institute in 1971 and 1986 respectively. Besides, CMC has achieved many ‘first milestone’ in other areas.


“Your institution and its achievements are a matter of pride for the entire country,” the President said in his speech congratulating all the stakeholders of the college.


Not surprisingly, the institution regularly features among the top Indian medical colleges in ranking conducted by independent as well as governmental agencies.


For instance, in the last ranking in popular magazines like India Today, Outlook India and The Week, CMC was ranked 3, 3, and 2 respectively in 2017.


In the latest National Institutional Ranking Framework 2018 by MHRD, it was ranked 3rd among the medical colleges. CMC also have a five-star rating by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC).


According to CMC information, 2.5 million patients visit the institute annually. CMC offers an extensive range of undergraduate, postgraduate and higher specialty courses in medicine, nursing, allied health sciences and related disciplines.


Healing Ministry of Christ

As per its ‘Vision Statement’, CMC “seeks to be a witness to the healing ministry of Christ, through excellence in education, service and research.”


Towards this end, it maintained that the delivery of health care, CMC provides a “culture of caring while pursuing its commitment to professional excellence.”


The mission is to develop “through education and training, compassionate, professionally excellent, ethically sound individuals who will go out as servant-leaders of health teams and healing communities.”


In the area of research, CMC strives to understand God’s purposes and designs, fostering a spirit of enquiry, commitment to truth and high ethical standards, it added.


Besides, CMC’s educational initiatives of Rural Unit for Health and Social Affairs (RUHSA) since 1977 started with the objective of “Training towards a better rural health care delivery system in India” has steadily grown into a “model that showcases strategies to improve rural health in India and other low resource settings.”


“Healthcare is above all else a service. Yes, it is also a business – but there is no greater business than saving a life. I am sure the CMC community will agree,” stated the President in his address.


The CMC community will not only agree; it is a lived experience for them.