American Medical News
Posted Feb. 11, 2013
Medical schools, residency programs and physician organizations are re-examining how the next generation of doctors should be educated and trained.
American Medical News has reported on initiatives such as revamping the basics of medical education and broadening the view of new physicians about where they might practice. The common thread throughout these efforts is that both the skills and supply of future physicians must be in sync with the needs of a changing health care delivery system, an aging population and access to care issues created by a shortage of doctors.
Reshaping undergraduate medical education is one of the three areas of focus in the five-year strategic plan of the American Medical Association that was announced in June 2012. Toward that end, the AMA will award $10 million to eight to 10 medical schools to foster teaching innovations. The grant program will begin Sept. 1.
The Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program is a different option to the traditional approach of graduate medical education. It involves training residents in community-based health centers. Educators believe that doctors who train in underserved communities will stay in those communities, and that can help prevent shortages of physicians in areas where access to care is a problem.
More than 100 years have passed since educator Abraham Flexner issued a report that recommended changes to medical education. Through the years, schools have embraced many of those initiatives, and many have implemented additional improvements in the past decade. Those include exposing students to clinical training in their first year and emphasizing a team-based approach to care.
By 2020, nationwide physician shortages are projected to reach 91,500 doctors. At the same time, medical student debt continues to be a burden to new physicians. One way that several medical schools are addressing such issues is to offer students a degree in three years instead of the traditional four.