I realize that this is not the assessment of the US News and
World Report, or other major organizations that rank US medical schools, but I
believe it quite possibly is true. Organizations
that rank medical schools look at dollars of research grant funding, or the
test scores of the students, but what is really important is the quality of the
physician they graduate. But what do we
mean by quality? And who should be the
judge of this?
A survey of
patients in a primary care setting revealed that the most important quality
that they sought in their physicians was empathy. More important than even clinical skill or
knowledge, they wanted a physician who listened and cared. This response cut across demographics—the
old, young, rich, poor, all ranked empathy as the most important quality of a
physician. And shouldn’t patients be the ones to tell us what is most valuable
in a physician, and by extension what the most important mission of medical
schools must be?
curriculum of medical schools across the country differs little in terms of the
basic sciences taught and clinical rotations of the last two years. Students from Harvard and Albany need to pass
the same standardized tests to graduate, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t
differences. Students at Albany Medical
College spend more time learning ethics, and discussing the humanistic aspects
of clinical care during their last two years of medical school than any other
medical school I have yet discovered.
When Dr Shelton and I discussed our curriculum at a national bioethics
conference two years ago, educators from other schools were shocked at how much
curriculum time we had with students during their clinical years, and none had
anything close to comparable.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.