A teaching hospital is a hospital that provides clinical education and training to future and current doctors, nurses, and other health professionals, in addition to delivering medical care to patients. They are generally affiliated with medical schools or universities (hence the alternative term university hospital), and may be owned by a university or may form part of a wider regional or national health system.
Some teaching hospitals also have a commitment to research and are centers for experimental, innovative and technically sophisticated services. In some countries like the United States where insurance is needed before treatment will occur, teaching hospitals also serve as safety net providing treatment to uninsured and under-insured patients.
Although institutions for caring for the sick are known to have existed much earlier in history, the first teaching hospital, where students were authorized to methodically practice on patients under the supervision of physicians as part of their education, was reportedly the Academy of Gundishapur in the Persian Empire during the Sassanid era. The Middle Persian word Bimaristan literally translates into "land of sickness".
In the medieval Islamic world, al-Nuri hospital, built by the famous Nur ad-Din Zangi, was made a teaching hospital and renowned physicians taught there. The hospital's medical school is said to have had elegant rooms, and a library which many of its books were donated by Zangi's physician, Abu al-Majid al-Bahili. A number of Muslim physicians and physicists graduated from there. Among the well-known students are Ibn Abi Usaybi'ah (1203-1270), the famous medical historian, and 'Ala ad-Din Ibn al-Nafis (d. 1289) whose discovery of pulmonary circulation and the lesser circulatory system marked a new step in the better understanding of human physiology and was the earliest explanation until Miguel Servet (1553).
According to Sir John Bagot Glubb:
"By Mamun's time medical schools were extremely active in Baghdad. The first free public hospital was opened in Baghdad during the Caliphate of Haroon-ar-Rashid. As the system developed, physicians and surgeons were appointed who gave lectures to medical students and issued diplomas to those who were considered qualified to practice. The first hospital in Egypt was opened in 872 AD and thereafter public hospitals sprang up all over the empire from Spain and the Maghrib to Persia."
The American television shows St. Elsewhere, Chicago Hope, ER, Scrubs, House, and Grey's Anatomy all take place in teaching hospitals (St. Eligius Hospital, Chicago Hope Hospital, County General Hospital, Sacred Heart Hospital, Princeton-Plainsboro, and Seattle Grace, respectively).