Medical school is finally poised to undergo major surgery. The WSJ reports on changes to medical schools that are gradually gaining steam across the nation. Some schools are cutting down on classroom work and memorization to make room for more field training. Others are integrating new technologies into their programs. Basic but important developments like informing med students about price variations are also gaining traction. Here’s one of the most interesting possibilities:
“The reality is that most medical schools are teaching the same way they did one hundred years ago,” says Wyatt Decker, chief executive of the Mayo Clinic’s operations in Arizona, which include a medical school in Scottsdale, Ariz., that is scheduled to enroll its first class in 2017. “It’s time to blow up that model and ask, ‘How do we want to train tomorrow’s doctors?’ ” […]
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.
These developments are all very much to the good. Medical school, like higher education in general, should move towards a model of education that prioritizes skills learned and knowledge gained rather than time spent in classrooms. That process will cut down on student debt, make schools more efficient, and gets doctors out into the world and job market faster. It could also increase the supply of doctors–more might be willing to become doctors if the process was more efficient and less costly—and bring down costs for consumers, because doctors wouldn’t have to pay down med school debts. Training doctors in price variations and instituting more programs devoted to service delivery—also mentioned in the story—could also help encourage doctors to improve our health care system. More of this, please, and faster.