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The practice of medicine has gone through big changes over the years, and how medical schools train our future professionals has also undergone a significant shift – not only via rising tuition costs. For a long period of time, training to become a medical professional followed a standard set of processes, but training is finally catching up with new technologies and some top medical educational centers are starting over, from scratch.
Many medical schools operate on a model that had been pioneered by educator Abraham Flexner in the early 1900’s. Some medical schools, such as at the University of Michigan, are engaged in an update and full overhaul of how they train doctors. The students are not only studying the standards of medical practice – anatomy and biochemistry – but are focusing on increasing their ability to communicate. Doctors are forced to communicate very serious issues to patients and other medical professionals, and the ability to communicate clearly and in the correct manner is of great importance. Teamwork is necessary in medicine, which has become specialized rather than broad. The doctor who cannot work effectively on a team can be expected to have trouble in his or her future career.
The practice of medicine requires that the person is extremely flexible, as advances in treatment are released frequently, and no medical professional can become stuck in older methods – he/she must be prepared to learn new treatments as their career progresses. They also must understand how the digital age is changing the landscape in modern medicine. The ability to create written reports that can be shared digitally is now a critical point in patient care, as it can greatly reduce the likelihood of medical errors – which are at an all-time high. The Journal of Patient Safety released an article in which it was revealed that the numbers of patients who suffer some type of preventable harm was in the range of 210,000 to 440,000 each year, and that this is the third leading cause of death in the USA.
Medical students face big challenges, even in medical schools that are still operating on the older model. Those students who hope to survive in the world of medicine must reach beyond the current methods of training to gain the skills needed for teamwork, interaction with patients and families, and technological prowess, especially as medical records are increasingly digitized. A scribbled, unreadable note will no longer make the cut, and the students that have the skills to function in the new world of medicine are far more likely to make a successful career.