Healthcare of the future requires a retooling of medical education

By Aine Cryts

The physicians of tomorrow must be grounded in the hard sciences, ethics and a commitment to lifelong learning while they're in medical school, writes Elaine Schattner, M.D., a semi-retired oncologist and journalist, in Forbes.

The significance of precision medicine--an initiative to which President Obama has pledged a $215 million investment--is just one reason medical students will need a solid background in hard sciences, such as cell and molecular biology, protein chemistry, immunology and genomics, she says.

Moreover, Schattner advocates for medical school education that ignites a hunger for lifelong learning and fosters the ability to apply critical thinking skills. These goals should be central to medical schools' mission, she adds.

"Physicians will need to be flexible, with grounding in informatics, math and stats," she writes. "They'll be prepared to go with the flow, so to speak, not as automatons and always questioning, to learn new ways of interpreting information and applying it to humans who are wounded or ill, who rely on their knowledge, goodness and capability."

A breast cancer survivor, Schattner writes of witnessing physicians demonstrate ethical behavior on a regular basis. Thus, medical school is the perfect place to create opportunities for students to grapple with moral dilemmas, conflicts of interest and the need to treat everyone with respect and fairness.

Schattner adds her voice to others seeking to shape the future of medical education--particularly on the heels of Kaiser Permanente's announcement that it will open its own medical school in 2019. With its residency program and ability to hire thousands of physicians, Kaiser's medical school has the ability to revolutionize graduate medical education by focusing its curriculum on helping students to navigate the complex regulatory environment and leverage digital health tools such as telehealth.

To learn more:
- read the commentary
- learn about the Precision Medicine Initiative

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