The Bardeen House is one of five Houses that comprise the Neighborhood at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Bardeen House advisor: Dr. Carol Diamond

Charles Russell Bardeen, MD

Historians no doubt agree that Dr. Charles Bardeen, the founding dean of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, was the person who has influenced the school more than any other.

Bardeen came to Madison in 1904, a time when the state was flourishing under the progressive leadership of Governor Robert LaFollette, and the university was expanding under President Charles Van Hise. The two shared the view that the one element the University of Wisconsin-Madison was missing was a medical school. Bardeen, a graduate of the innovative Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, was asked to create a two-year program fully integrated into the university.

Although he was a reserved man, Bardeen was a forceful advocate who insisted that modern medical practitioners required the broad scientific training only a university could provide. In three short years the new program was up and running, with 23 men and three women enrolled.

Bardeen was a scholarly physician but he never had a clinical practice nor was he particularly adept at interpersonal interactions. Despite this, he was a visionary dean and wanted the new University of Wisconsin Medical School to evolve into a four-year program.

This vision took 17 years to materialize. Bardeen had to battle local physicians, who believed that such an institution would rob them of their livelihood. Global crises such as World War I and the 1918 influenza epidemic severely diverted everyone's attention. But finally, in 1924, Wisconsin General Hospital opened its doors, and a year later the medical school invited students to participate in a four-year curriculum.

Still, for several years the school had difficulty meeting the clinical needs of the curriculum. From Bardeen's expansive mind came a solution: co-optation of state physicians into the medical school's educational activities. Beginning in 1926, fourth-year medical students would spend eight weeks working in one of several private practices scattered across the state.

The preceptorship rapidly grew into one of the most popular aspects of medical education at the University of Wisconsin. By the time Bardeen died in 1935, imitations had spawned across the nation, and the preceptor concept became an important national innovation. The fourth year state-wide preceptorship remains an integral part of the training of UW medical students.