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Acad Med. 1999 Oct;74(10):1076-9.

Transformation of medical students' education: work in progress and continuing challenges.

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  • 1Division of Medical Education, Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington, DC 20036-1125, USA.


In his book Time to Heal: American Medical Education from the Turn of the Century to the Era of Managed Care, Ludmerer expresses concern about the erosion of the environment in which medical students and residents learn the clinical skills, attitudes, and behaviors that they will need to practice high-quality medicine. Importantly, while he attributes the erosion of the clinical environment largely to the impact of managed care, he also places some responsibility within academic medicine itself, primarily the redirection of the clinical faculty's efforts away from traditional academic pursuits to the generation of clinical revenues. The Association of American Medical Colleges has information about the kinds of changes already occurring. In the preclinical curriculum, schools have introduced a wide range of new courses and topics, and there is more attention on professionalism and values. Schools are making fundamental changes in the design and conduct of the curriculum, primarily by adopting more integrated (non-departmental) approaches to course design and management. The clinical curriculum is changing primarily through the greatly expanded use of ambulatory care sites, and medical schools are developing new approaches to managing dispersed and varied instruction. Also, faculty are paying more attention to the role of residents as teachers and role models. These changes speak well for medical education. Nonetheless, substantial and sustained work remains to be done despite the present uncertainty about the future of academic medical centers. This work is essential--a challenge that the leaders of academic medicine must not fail.

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