According to “Med Students Feel Unprepared for Health Care System,” an article appearing on the AAMC website, many new medical school graduates do not feel ready for the “business” of medicine. Data culled from nearly 60,000 AAMC graduating student surveys completed between 2003 and 2007 led investigators at the University of Michigan Medical School to conclude that while over 90% of graduates were confident in their clinical training, nearly 60% felt unprepared to deal with practice management, record keeping, insurance, medical economics and managed care.
Medical schools offer instruction about the health care system, but some devote far more time to it than others do. Some offer a few lecture-based electives, while problem-based, project-oriented courses are a graduation requirement at others. M.D./M.B.A. programs are available at some institutions. Not surprisingly, graduates of schools with a greater commitment to health care system instruction were three times more likely to describe their preparation in this area as adequate. Surprisingly, these graduates were just as well satisfied with their training in other areas of instruction. The message for medical schools is that it’s not necessary to dilute the quality of clinical training in order to provide students with solid preparation in the business aspects of medical practice.
What’s the message for you as an aspiring physician? Obviously, you should find out as much as you can about the curricula of the schools you’re considering. You might also, if time permits, enroll in some college-level health administration courses. These are widely available at both four- and two-year institutions and offer you both short- and long-term benefits. You’ll not only be better prepared for medical school interviews and medical practice down the road, but you’ll also be a more knowledgeable consumer of medical services.
By Joan Davis, who served for 18 years as a pre-medical adviser at the University of Rochester.
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