Sunday, September 30, 2018

Medical Education

Medicine is a very strenuous professional program, but potentially full of incredible intellectual stimulation and personal challenge.

Having gone through medical school myself, and having gotten to know numerous medical students over the years, I have a few ideas about the medical education system:

The academic portion of medicine consists of an enormous amount of material crammed into a short period of time.  It requires students to prioritize study time with great care, to get the "big picture" of things.  Students with a very strong memory would have a huge advantage.  As a result, few students really get to savour the academic learning, to really think deeply about these important subjects.    For most, it is a stressful but superficial rush through vast areas of subject matter.  Students who are good with test-taking gamesmanship would have an advantage here.

Here are some ideas for change:

How about have a course system in medicine which allows people to gradually complete the academic section at their own pace?    This could allow people to take their time, master the material, and to enjoy it.

Some subjects in medicine, such as anatomy, are crammed into the first year, but then rarely touched upon after that, unless the student ends up doing a surgery residency, etc.  What about having some very basic subjects such as anatomy be reviewed regularly and immersively, with practical applications, so that students would deepen their knowledge and practical skill over time?

Practical skills in medicine, including interviewing, physical examination, and basic procedures, could be gradually introduced much earlier.  It is not necessary to understand biochemical pathways or histology, etc.,  to practice most clinical skills.   Many such practical skills improve, and become "second-nature," with years of practice, so why not start sooner?  This would make the work more interesting and relevant for the students, and ultimately would be very good for patients, because they would be dealing with medical students with better practical skills.

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