Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Medical Education: What Should We Teach?

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on January 3, 2014

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Medical education is an unscientific exposure to medical science which results in physicians with, hopefully, enough common sense, to question what they have been taught. Today’s LA Times, Mr. Rekhi highlights the lack of training in health care policy. How can a doctor work in a system without understanding its outside forces? Yes. This point has been an aggravation of mine for some time now, given that my medical education never made sense to me, but nor does the current educational environment. In the 80’s I was in school for forty  hours a week for two years, with homework and assignments added on top of that. I enjoyed it, but apparently, UCLA has now become the school with the least demand for classroom activities. The reversal is striking, and questionable. That medical education needs an overhaul is clear. There is so much to learn; so little time to learn it. Prioritizing learning is a very complicated, and unclear endeavor. Mr. Rekhi says, and I agree, that with the change in healthcare delivery, physicians should have a sophisticated understanding of the impact of that change on how they practice medicine. UCLA is a gem in that students rotate through a multitude of settings, giving them exposure to a range of patients and health-care delivery systems. This, thankfully, has not changed. Perceptive students learn by experience how different settings result in kinds of care, but it would be better if this understanding was enhanced by providing the research on health care policy and the resulting  impact on patient outcomes. He makes an obvious point, and yet, as with many important decisions, sometimes the obvious needs to be stated.


2 Responses to “Medical Education: What Should We Teach?”

  1. Jon said

    In the well written OP-ED article “The gap in medical education” of Rahul Rekhi, the lack of a good trade school education become refocused. Put simply (and more crassly put than in Rekhi’s writing), medical school, like law school, is a trade school – albeit with advanced degrees. Undergraduate and graduate school degrees should be (but often aren’t) academic degrees of an educated person. The MD and JD are trade school degrees. As such, the freshly minted doctor (or lawyer) should come out of the trade school with both the technical knowledge of the trade and how that knowledge can be applied in the market place. The apprentice doctor (medical student) should not become the journeyman doctor (medical resident) without some mentoring from the master (medical schools) as to how the craft (modern medicine) is paid for in the current real world.

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