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Rush History

First medical school in Chicago

Presbyterian Hospital building

With a history spanning more than 175 years, Rush has been part of the Chicago landscape longer than any other health care institution in the city. In fact, Rush Medical College received its charter on March 2, 1837, two days before the city of Chicago was incorporated. Rush Medical College was the first medical school in Chicago, and one of the earliest in the Midwest.

Named after a founding father

The founder of Rush Medical College, Daniel Brainard, MD, named the school in honor of Benjamin Rush, MD, the only physician with medical school training to sign the Declaration of Independence.

The early Rush faculty became nationally recognized for patient care, research and teaching, and was associated with a number of scientific developments and new clinical procedures.

Teaching hospital established

The Rush faculty established a teaching hospital, Presbyterian Hospital, with the support of a local Presbyterian congregations in 1883. And Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing was founded in 1903.

Rush Medical College was affiliated with the University of Chicago from 1898 to 1941. Following the end of this affiliation, Rush Medical College closed its doors in 1942 for the next 27 years.

Merging with Presbyterian and St. Luke’s

Meanwhile, St. Luke’s Hospital, located on the 1400 blocks of South Michigan and Indiana avenues, was founded in 1864. The St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing was established in 1885. St. Luke’s merged with Presbyterian Hospital to form Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital in 1956. Their nursing schools also united to create the Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing.

In 1969, Rush Medical College reactivated its charter and merged with Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital to form Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center.

Formation of Rush University Medical Center

Rush University was established in 1972. It now includes colleges of medicine, nursing, health sciences and research training.

Our institution officially changed its name in September 2003 to Rush University Medical Center. The change was designed to reflect the key role that education and research play in Rush’s patient care mission.

Rush’s newest additions to its campus include the Tower, an innovative 376-bed hospital building, and the Orthopedic Building.


More recently, we have re-established the Rush name to refer to all our entities. Rush University Medical Center refers specifically to our hospital and clinical enterprise. Rush University is still the name of our university. Rush Oak Park Hospital is our community hospital. And Rush Health is a network of hospitals and physicians of which Rush University Medical Center and Rush Oak Park Hospital are members.

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