First Medical School in the Ottoman Empire

On 14 March 1827 CE, the first modern Army Medical School (Tiphane-i Amire) of the Ottoman Empire was established by Sultan Mahmud II in Istanbul. At this school, the teaching was conducted in French and based exclusively on European medical texts. Sultan also opened a separate School of Surgery (Cerrahhane-i Amire) in 1832.

As part of his modernising efforts of the Ottoman Empire, Sultan Mahmud II disbanded the centuries-old Janissary corps on June 16, 1826, and replaced them with a modern army known as Asakir-i Mansure-i Muhammediye (The Victorious Soldiers of Muhammad).

Demand for medical personnel for the new armed forces created by Mahmud II (r. 1808–1839) led to reform not only in medical care but also in the teaching of medicine. Therefore, initiatives were taken to create modern military hospitals and a new medical school.

Mustafa Behçet Efendi, a physician who took the opportunity to train physicians and surgeons in the army, proposed the purpose of the establishment of a new medical school to Sultan Mahmud II on December 26, 1826, and managed to get the Sultan to approve it.

Army Medical School (Tıphane-i Amire) and the School of Surgery (Cerrahhane-i Amire) were merged under the name Mekteb-i Tıbbiye (Medical School) in 1836. In 1839, that school was relocated and its name was changed to Mekteb-i Tıbbiye-i Adliye-i Şahane (Imperial School of Medicine) in honour of Sultan Mahmud II.

The first Medical Day celebration in Turkey took place in occupied Istanbul on March 14, 1919. The day is still celebrated in the country as the National Medical Day (or Medicine Day).

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