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Med Educ Online. 2017;22(1):1396174. doi: 10.1080/10872981.2017.1396174.

Revisiting the merits of a mandatory large group classroom learning format: an MD-MBA perspective.

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1
a Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine , Hanover , NH , USA.
2
b Dartmouth Tuck School of Business , Hanover , NH , USA.

Abstract

The role of classroom learning in medical education is rapidly changing. To promote active learning and reduce student stress, medical schools have adopted policies such as pass/fail curriculums and recorded lectures. These policies along with the rising importance of the USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination) exams have made asynchronous learning popular to the detriment of classroom learning. In contrast to this model, modern day business schools employ mandatory large group classes with assigned seating and cold-calling. Despite similar student demographics, medical and business schools have adopted vastly different approaches to the classroom. When examining the classroom dynamic at business schools with mandatory classes, it is evident that there's an abundance of engaging discourse and peer learning objectives that medical schools share. Mandatory classes leverage the network effect just like social media forums such as Facebook and Twitter. That is, the value of a classroom discussion increases when more students are present to participate. At a time when students are savvy consumers of knowledge, the classroom is competing against an explosion of study aids dedicated to USMLE preparation. Certainly, the purpose of medical school is not solely about the efficient transfer of knowledge - but to train authentic, competent, and complete physicians. To accomplish this, we must promote the inimitable and deeply personal interactions amongst faculty and students. When viewed through this lens, mandatory classes might just be a way for medical schools to leverage their competitive advantage in educating the complete physician.

KEYWORDS:

MD-MBA; competitive advantage; large group learning; mandatory class; network effect

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