Changing Landscape of Medical School


Who wants to vomit?  Well, here you go.  Per a recent article in the WSJ, “a wave of innovation is sweeping through medical schools, much of it aimed at producing young doctors who are better prepared to meet the demands of the nation’s changing health-care system.”  Are you ready for this?  Here is a list of innovative things mentioned in the piece:

  • At the new Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine in Hempstead, N.Y, students spend their first eight weeks not in lecture classes but becoming certified emergency medical technicians, learning split-second lifesaving skills on 911 calls.
  • At Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pa., first-year students work as “patient navigators,” helping the ill, injured and their families traverse the often-confusing medical system and experiencing it from their perspective.
  • At New York University School of Medicine, one required course delves into a database that tracks every hospital admission and charge in the state. Discussions center on why, say, the average tab for delivering a baby is $3,000 in a rural area and $22,000 in New York City.
  • To that end, in April, a new MCAT—the Medical College Admission Test—will be administered, the test’s first major revision since 1991. The new version is 2 hours longer (6 hours and 30 minutes) and tests knowledge of behavioral and social sciences as well as biology, physics and chemistry. One sample question has applicants read a passage, then asks which of four statements “is most consistent with the sociological paradigm of symbolic interactionism?” (Editor’s Note: WTF does that even mean?)
  • Mayo also is creating a new course of study, called the Science of Health Care Delivery, which will run through all four years and include health-care economics, biomedical informatics and systems engineering. With a few additional credits, students can graduate with both an M.D. and a master’s in health-care delivery from Arizona State University.
  • In a course called Checkbook, Mayo students will track all of the services provided to their assigned patients during clinical rotations and look for redundancies or routine tests that add little value.
  • “The old model was, you’d go on rounds; the attending would ask a question, and the young resident had to get the right answer,” says Dr. Decker in Scottsdale. “In the new model, you’re part of a team, and somebody else might have the right answer.” To understand the roles of team members who aren’t doctors, first-year Mayo students spend half-days shadowing clinic schedulers, registered nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. They also assist in managing a panel of patients, as care coordinators do. Less Memorization
  • Some schools are placing far less emphasis on memorizing facts, such as which drugs do what and how they interact with other drugs. Such information is now readily available electronically.
  • Some schools are condensing the typical four-year curriculum into three years, to let students start their residencies sooner and graduate with less debt. The Association of American Medical Colleges is also studying ways to let students master needed skills and competencies at their own pace—an innovation that has come to medical residency programs as well.

I am not the typical old guy that states, “In my day, things were better”.  This crap, however, makes me want to lose my mind.  And I am not against learning from anyone.  But medical students being primed to study EMTs, become patient navigators, shadowing NPs/PAs/nurses are all techniques to marginalize future physicians.  What it is saying is that YOU ARE NOT IN CHARGE, DOCTOR and this just prepares them for learned helplessness in the future.  Instead, they are teaching them not to memorize (huh?) and graduate early so they can do what?  Be employed by a hospital somewhere?  Never be able to think independently? Work as a future Walmart doc?  I fear for our future.

65470cookie-checkChanging Landscape of Medical School