July 22, 2011
When the 40 students in Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine's inaugural class arrive at the school's new campus in Hempstead, New York on July 25, they will receive a rather humbling initiation into their chosen profession: they will be required to ride on dozens of ambulance tours over the next two years.
"These students will not be there as the privileged medical school observer. They'll do the full spectrum of ambulance work," notes Dr. Lawrence Smith, dean of the new school, which will be the first in the country to require its first-year medical students to train and be licensed as emergency medical technicians. He adds, "being an EMT teaches them teamwork," an increasingly important skill for aspiring physicians.
With both the prestige and income of being a doctor dwindling in recent years, the demand for practitioners with better people skills has surged. An increasing number of physicians are choosing shift work at a hospital—where working well with colleagues is essential— over setting up a more autonomous private practice. And the rise of nurse practitioners and physician assistants working side by side with medical doctors has further eroded physicians' once undisputed place at the top of the clinical pecking order. One way to cultivate better people skills is to give medical students more hands-on experience with patients as well as by having them interact with other medical professionals in a team-based setting.
Despite this sea change, nurturing hands-on skills, and the people skills that go with them, still isn't a priority at most medical schools. "There is a fairly severe mind-body split in medicine and medical education," notes Dr. Molly Cooke, and internist at the University of California at San Francisco and co-author of a report from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching on the urgent need to rethink how doctors are trained in the United States.
Some schools have tried to fix the problem by adding courses on humanism or "doctoring," with mixed success. Students often view the touchy-feely sessions as a waste of their precious free time, since their content is barely addressed in the standardized, multiple-choice exams they must pass in order to be licensed and land a residency. A newer approach is to teach the science and art of medicine simultaneously. At UCSF School of Medicine, for example, students take a course called Molecules, Methods and Malignancies, which spans everything from basic cell biology to how cancer begins to how to break bad news to a patient.
September 14, 2010
Innovating and Updating the Medical School Curriculum
Presented by the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Sciences recently launched the Translational Medicine Initiative, which through ongoing programming at the Academy provides a unique, recurring forum that unites physicians with basic researchers, industry and academic scientists, public health experts, and regulatory personnel to spark an interdisciplinary and scholarly discussion of recent breakthroughs and remaining challenges in translating basic science into clinical applications. The inaugural event of this initiative titled "Innovating and Updating the Medical School Curriculum," sought to assess innovative models for training physicians so that a new generation will be prepared to face the challenges of practicing medicine in the 21st century.
Despite vast advances in biomedical research and
technology, the medical school curriculum has
remained mostly static for the past half century.
However, several medical schools have begun to
implement innovative curricula based on new
methods of physician training and new technologies
for learning. The goals of this conference were to
highlight these new models for physician training
motivated by advances in science and technology,
and to consider how to effect widespread revision
of the standard medical school learning methods.
On June 23, 2010, at the New York Academy of Sciences, 191 participants, including medical school deans, faculty, and students; physicians; governing board members; accrediting institution members; Continuing Medical Education administrators; and health profession educators convened to discuss these innovative curricula and the use of new technologies in medical school education.
Read the entire overview.
Listen to a panel discussion: How to Use Technology as an Educational Tool