Faster track needed for U.S. medical students

  • Article by: Abdullah Nasser , Special to the Washington Post
  • Updated: February 23, 2013 - 11:42 AM

It’s time for the U.S. to recognize the traditional pre-med path for what it is: a colossal waste of time.

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hobie2Feb. 23, 1312:06 PM

Given the resources available to the modern physician, the man is timely in his comments... In earlier times, the physician was pretty much on his own and had to know a wide range of information in depth and be familiar with it - he was surgeon, internist, gynecologist, geriatric and pediatric doctor - and pharmacist... However, today, the modern doctor does triage in their allotted 6 minutes - 1) as ever, assess the level of threat to patient and society, then 2) where to route the patient next? Pharmacy, social services, testing, specialist, or home... Doctors are no longer an island alone - they have internet sites, peer consults at the touch of an email, and a host of support sites not only for patient care but also for them. Future doctors still need the training and familiarization AND personal growth that time gives, but does society still need the length and depth and of the method of earlier times? The big picture is that everyone dies - doctors can only temporarily keep the inevitable at bay, no matter how well trained and how many.

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goferfanzFeb. 23, 1312:24 PM

This story really has a false premise. Medical school slots are slots. End of story. The age of the students filling those slots wont change the number of doctors graduating each year. Increasing class sizes would...... As for the age of students, certain skills are needed beyond high school. Yet, this author is clearly unaware that schools like UMD use early entry as an enticement to get good undergrad students. UMD takes several juniors into THEIR medical school and the first year of med school earns them their general science undergraduate degree. Many US schools could use this approach if "younger students" were so vital. Is it? Ask your American doctors about their impressions of foreign trained doctors = some good things, some bad things. And the bad often relates to training and/or cultural issues. Say what you will, tons of foreigners flock to the US for care but I have seen only one American leave the US for care (HIFU), and his care has been a disaster in retrospect.

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supervon2Feb. 23, 13 1:31 PM

Remember that the AMA is the organization that "grants" university slots and their number one goal is to keep the salaries up and keep the cost high so their "members" have a high society lifestyle. Hint: It's better known as a Union and these are union tactics to fleece the public. It's working.

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meredithkarlFeb. 23, 13 3:36 PM

Or we could rely more on nurse practitioners, who have equal if not better patient satisfaction. Physicians could work the areas where they want to practice -- specialties.

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regionguyFeb. 24, 13 2:10 PM

Supervon2: The AMA is one of the two groups who jointly accredit MD-granting medical schools in the US, and the assumption of getting acredited is not by itself sufficient to build additioanl schools or add slots to existing schhols. Plus the AMA does not control residency slots. Having worked with docs from around the world, I am familiar with the author's argument. (Though I do wonder if he is really a pre-med student who is just unhappy at not being able to make money sooner.) I think it has some merit. But my concern is that helping patients with their serious illnesses takes a level of maturity that you aren't typically going to see in college-age students, and inter-personal skills is something that medical schools have not really focused on and are not very good at teaching. I would be ok with revamping physician training and shortening it up some, but not to the point that you go to medical school right after high school. Though a retired MD myself, I always regarded NP's and PA's as trusted, competent peers, and I am glad our system is uti lizingthem more. But I do not regard them as substitutes for family-practice, general-internist, or pediatric docs.

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