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Am J Surg. 2000 Nov;180(5):353-6.

The future of medical education is no longer blood and guts, it is bits and bytes.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Stanford University, School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305-5655, USA.


In the United States, medical care consumes approximately $1.2 trillion annually (14% of the gross domestic product) and involves 250,000 physicians, almost 1 million nurses, and countless other providers. While the Information Age has changed virtually every other facet of our life, the education of these healthcare professionals, both present and future, is largely mired in the 100-year-old apprenticeship model best exemplified by the phase "see one, do one, teach one." Continuing medical education is even less advanced. While the half-life of medical information is less than 5 years, the average physician practices 30 years and the average nurse 40 years. Moreover, as medical care has become increasingly complex, medical error has become a substantial problem. The current convulsive climate in academic health centers provides an opportunity to rethink the way medical education is delivered across a continuum of professional lifetimes. If this is well executed, it will truly make medical education better, safer, and cheaper, and provide real benefits to patient care, with instantaneous access to learning modules. At the Center for Advanced Technology in Surgery at Stanford we envision this future: within the next 10 years we will select, train, credential, remediate, and recredential physicians and surgeons using simulation, virtual reality, and Web-based electronic learning. Future physicians will be able to rehearse an operation on a projectable palpable hologram derived from patient-specific data, and deliver the data set of that operation with robotic assistance the next day.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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