It Ain’t your Granddad’s Medical School Anymore

August 5, 2015


It Ain’t your Granddad’s Medical School Anymore

Every industry undergoes technological and procedural advances over the years. Unfortunately, educational programs that prepare students to enter various fields of work don’t always keep up with real-world practice. And there are critics aplenty who say America’s medical schools are among those programs lagging behind in comprehensive, real-world preparation of students.

But the times, they are a changin’, as the song goes. While the core structure of medical school, which involves two years of basic science followed by two years of clinical work, has been in place for over a century, an increasing number of schools and programs are stepping things up in innovative ways. 

Among the creative approaches medical educators are taking to help produce young doctors better prepared to meet the demands of the nation’s changing health-care system are: 

  • Hofstra University’s Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine in Hempstead, NY, where students spend their first eight weeks becoming certified emergency medical technicians, learning split-second lifesaving skills on 911 calls.
  • Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, PA, where first-year students work as patient navigators, helping the ill, injured and their families deal with the often confusing medical system and experiencing it from the patient’s perspective.
  • New York University School of Medicine, where a required course has students analyze a database that tracks every hospital admission and charge in the state and discuss issues such as cost disparities for services between hospitals in large cities and rural areas
  • Yale School of Medicine, where students visit the Yale Center for British Art and examine works by the Old Masters for a lesson in using visual cues to improve their observation and, ultimately, diagnosis skills.

These and other innovative approaches to medical education have proven so effective that an initiative by the American Medical Association dubbed Accelerating Change in Medical Education is awarding $1 million to each of 11 schools to help fund similarly novel programs. Of the nation’s 141 medical schools, 118 (nearly 84 percent) competed for the 11 grants. Also, a recent revamp of the MCAT is designed to help weed out applicants who simply memorize material and identify those who are more analytical thinkers, have better bedside manner and are more promising potential caregivers. And some schools have replaced the conventional one-on-one interview with a series of simulations that test an applicant’s ability to make tough judgement calls, deliver bad news to patients and families, etc.

Says Richard Zimmerman, a neurosurgeon and medical director for education for the Mayo School of Graduate Medical Education in Scottsdale, AZ, “We’ve replaced the sage on the stage with the guide on the side.”

The growing trend mirrors the medical education approach developed by WOLFPACC. The St. Augustine, FL-based program nixes conventional memorize-and-recall and instead teaches students how to better understand the body’s five main organ systems and how they relate to each other, allowing them to more effectively diagnose patients’ medical conditions and develop treatment plans.

Make sure you’re prepared for the ever-changing medical field by calling 904-209-3140 and speaking with a WOLFPACC enrollment specialist today.