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Christian Medical College, Vellore, is the outcome of a single woman’s obedience to God's call. In 1890, Ida Sophia Scudder, founder of this institution, then a schoolgirl, was visiting her missionary parents in south India. One eventful night she was asked to help three young women from different families struggling in difficult childbirth. Being without training at that time, Ida herself could do nothing. She offered the help of her missionary father, who was also a medical doctor. How- ever, to her amazement, the men responded saying, “What! Take a man into my house to care for my wife? It is better that she should die than another man should look upon her face.” Custom prevented them from accepting the help of a male doctor. The next morning Ida found out that all the three 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 graduated from Cornell University Medical College and was among its first group of women students.

Ida returned to India in 1900 and opened a one-bed clinic in Vellore. In 1902, she built the 40-bed Mary Taber Schell Memorial Centre for women and children, named after the donor’s wife. The original site is now CMC ’s Ophthalmology Department. The main campus moved to the present site in the Thottapalayam area of Vellore in 1924 and treatment was extended to the whole family.

Early in her career, Dr. Ida Scudder realised that the women of India themselves should be trained to help in medical work. She started a school for women nurses in 1909 which was upgraded to a College of Nursing in 1946. A training programme for women doctors began in 1918 which was raised to MBBS level in 1942 and men

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students were admitted in 1947. Today CMC offers 91 recognized training programmes for both women and men in allied health, nursing and medical fields.

CMC has been given a five star rating by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council, an autonomous institution of the University Grants Commis- sion, for the quality of its education. In honour of its work in the health care sector the institution received the National citizen's award. CMC has been categorized as a super speciality teaching hospital of the highest quality and assigned the A1 grading by the Investment Informa- tion and Credit Rating Agency (ICRA) Ltd.

Throughout its history CMC has taken up each new task in response to Christ’s command. In the words of our founder, Dr.Ida Sophia Scudder,” We thank God for the way in which He has led us in the past and we look forward to an even greater future. We need those who can take up the torch of life and carry on and make Vellore Medical College one of the outstanding medical institutions today and, shall I say, in the world. We need your love and prayers and help as never before.” Today the vision of Aunt Ida, as she was popularly known, has come to fruition.

Dr. Ida Sophia Scudder 1870 -1960


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