Rosemary A. Stevens, PhD

Rosemary A. Stevens, PhD

Professor Emerita, History and Sociology of Science, School of Arts and Sciences

Rosemary A. Stevens is the Stanley I. Sheerr Professor Emeritus in Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was a member (and sometime chair) of the Department of History and Sociology of Science and a senior fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics.

A native of England, Stevens began her career as a historian/policy analyst with a degree in English language and literature at Oxford University. She was selected to a competitive management traineeship for the British National Health Service, which included two years of graduate work in applied social science and management studies at the University of Manchester. She became, at the age of 25, the youngest administrator of a hospital in London. Migrating to the United States in 1961, four years before the landmark Medicare and Medicaid legislation, Stevens developed a strong, abiding interest in American medicine and its history, and in organizational and social comparisons between health care in Britain and the United States.

Stevens holds an MPH degree in health services administration and policy, and a PhD in epidemiology, both from Yale. Between 1968 and 1976, she held subsequent assistant, associate and full professor positions at the Yale Medical School in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, and was also a fellow at Yale’s Institute for Social and Policy Studies. In 1976 she moved to Tulane, serving as chair of the department of health systems management just as profit-making hospitals were moving to center stage -- the harbinger of full-blown market rhetoric for health care in the 1980s and the managed care movement of the 1990s. She moved to the University of Pennsylvania in 1979, with a break in the years 1991-96 when she served as dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. She joined the emeritus faculty in 2002.

Rosemary Stevens has published seven books and numerous articles, and has chaired or been a member of national policy committees on subjects as diverse as national blood policy, for-profit health care, physician assistants and nurse practitioners, alternative medicine, graduate medical education payments, and Medicare as social contract. She has served as a public member on the National Board of Medical Examiners, the American Board of Pediatrics, the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, and the American Board of Medical Specialties. Among many honors, she has won national awards in the history of medicine, history of public health, and health services research. She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine.

Stevens' publications include books on the history of medical practice in England, the history of specialization in American medicine, the early implementation of Medicaid, physician migration policy and its implications, and the history of American hospitals.  Her most recent book, A Time of Scandal (2016), portrays the diverse political and organizational forces that led to the establishment of the US Veterans Bureau (the current VA) after World War I -- and the subsequent prosecution and imprisonment of its first director for a crime he did not commit. The Veterans Bureau Scandal rivaled the concurrent oil scandal of Teapot Dome in damning the Harding administration during the subsequent presidency of Calvin Coolidge. Her current work focuses on questions posed in the Bureau's early days that are relevant today, such as the idea of efficiency in government, and on credulity and the role of myth-making in policy history.

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