The structure and function of departments of medicine are important for several reasons. First, departments of medicine are the biggest departments in virtually every medical school and in most universities with a medical school, and they are the largest professional units in most academic medical centers. In fact, Petersdorf described them as "the linchpins of medical schools" (1). Departments of medicine account for one-fourth or more of the academic medical enterprise: they include about one-fourth of the faculty of medical school, account for roughly one-fourth of the patient care and clinical revenue of academic medical centers, and their faculty perform a disproportionate share of teaching and research, accounting for up to 45% of National Institutes of Health (NIH) - funded research in some medical schools. Second, the department's ability to fulfill its role and advance its mission depends on its structure and function. Finally, lessons learned from examining the structure and function of departments of medicine may guide other departments and schools of medicine themselves in improving their structure and function. This paper describes the issues that face departments of medicine in 2016. I begin by providing the context for these issues with a definition of a department of medicine, describing briefly the history of departments, and stating their mission.