Inside Higher Ed reports that medical schools are increasingly using new technology in conjunction with a greater emphasis on the behavioral sciences. Motivated by advances in medicine, med schools have started to utilize creative approaches to enable students to view patients as human beings rather than collections of symptoms.
M. Brownell Anderson, senior director of education affairs at the AAMC explains, “Medicine has moved away from the focus on curing disease to wellness and prevention, so the patient is considered in a holistic way. It’s not looking at the diabetic ulcer of the foot, but saying ‘this is Ms. Jones and she has problems maintaining her diabetes.’”
Tremendous change has occurred in curricula at medical schools. One of the more significant changes involves the use of virtual simulations, enabling students to serve as physicians for avatars.
Since they have fewer preconceptions, newer medical schools have a distinct advantage when it comes to innovative curriculum design and technology usage in the classroom. For example, The University of Central Florida Medical Schools, which is about to induct its first class this fall, has developed a program where each student will work with a virtual patient throughout their four years in medical school. Students will treat their avatars from birth to death, following their complete medical history through the life cycle. Creators of the new technology hope to share it with other medical schools, as well.
While perhaps more slowly, some older medical schools have revamped the traditional curriculum:
- Harvard University – The Medical School is reforming its curriculum to bring together clinical education, small group tutorials, and problem-based learning. Students start their clinical experience at a teaching hospital earlier in their medical studies than they have in the past.
- Columbia University – The College of Physicians and Surgeons requires students to take classes in narrative medicine with the goal of helping students understand the emotional aspects of illness and ultimately work more effectively with patients.
- UCSF – The School of Medicine is beginning to use portfolios to help students assess their progress. Mentors review the portfolios to determine whether students are ready to move forward in their medical education.