AMA adopts policy encouraging med student training in EHRs

The American Medical Association (AMA) has adopted a policy to encourage the education of medical students in the use of electronic health records.

The policy, adopted at AMA's annual meeting June 8, is part of the organization's overall effort to reform medical education. According to the reference committee report recommending that the policy be adopted, the organization should work with other bodies "to encourage the nation's medical schools and residency and fellowship training programs to teach students and trainees effective methods of utilizing electronic devices in the exam room and at the bedside to enhance rather than impede the physician-patient relationship and improve patient care."

The policy recognizes the benefits of access to EHRs as part of student training, supports hands on experience with appropriate supervision and suggests that research be conducted to determine "the characteristics of an ideal software system" for this education.

AMA currently is working with a consortium of 11 medical schools to incorporate EHR training into their curricula.

"There is a clear need for medical students today to have access to and learn how to properly use electronic health records well before they enter practice," AMA Board Member Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, M.D. said in a statement. "For our future physicians to successfully navigate the 21st century health care system, we must close the gaps that currently exist between how medical students are educated and how healthcare is delivered now and in the future."

Studies have shown that medical students, just like established physicians, vary in their acceptance of EHRs, but that those who lack adequate practice with the tools may have a harder time during residency and afterward. Some students continue to track former patients for educational purposes, which has both pros and cons, including patient privacy issues and need for patient consent. Medical schools increasingly are incorporating EHR use into their programs, although some schools still restrict such access due to concerns about note ownership, patient safety and misuse of copy and paste functions.

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- here's the reference committee report (.pdf)