The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that new medical schools are changing the face of medical education. While traditional programs require students to spend two years studying science and theory before they even step into a hospital, at the new programs, students gain clinical experience right from the start.
Dr. Lawrence G. Smith, chief medical officer of a 15-hospital health system and founding dean of the Hofstra University School of Medicine, favors sending first-year students out with ambulances and encouraging them to maintain long-lasting relationships with patients. Otherwise, he says, “you’re two years into medical school and $100,000 in debt, and you’re about as useful as a Boy Scout at a family picnic.”
- Hofstra U. School of Medicine – In addition to assigning first-year students to ambulance crews, students will be assigned to individual patients and track their medical records. Students will also spend one day a week at local hospitals. Dr. Smith explains the new innovative approach: “The show-and-tell method of education doesn’t work with people old enough to be in medical school.”
- Florida International U. School of Medicine – Another pioneering medical school, Florida International U., will accept its first students this fall. The new curriculum includes a NeighborhoodHELP Program where student teams will learn from and help residents of some of Florida’s poorest neighborhoods. Founding dean, Dr. John A. Rock explains, “It will be an important experience for our students to understand the difficulties families have navigating the health-care system in our country.”
- Rocky Vista U. College of Osteopathic Medicine – At the provisionally accredited school in Parker, CO, students are required to perform community service in a public-health facility to complement the first- and second-year course work.
All three new medical schools enjoy the freedom they have to develop new curricula and change traditional medical education. “Change is so much easier at a new school,” says Walter R. Buck, chair of structural medicine at Rocky Vista. “You don’t have to convince this committee or that and fight 50 years of tradition.”