Re-Inventing The Medical School Classroom

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Much has been written about medical education in the last 10 years. There are exciting thoughts being communicated — many by leaders within the medical community. There is a missing link however in that within the current structure of education, few movements have been made to bring thoughts into action — radically changing the learning process in our institutions.

There are, however, exciting efforts outside of the accredited classrooms which focus on supplementing medical education. I previously featured PodMedics: an online site/app which brings podcasts and other media about various topics within medicine in short bits. Users can learn on their own time and at their own rate.

Life in the Fast Lane: (one of my favorites) is a focused resource for emergency medicine professionals which includes a blog on various relevant topics and ECG guide and other resources for all levels of training.

I also recently heard about ReelDx from 33Charts which is a pediatric resource.

What we gain from the growth of such applications and more general sites such as Khan Academy is that the physical classroom is becoming less relevant. It’s not so much a question of the classroom being not enough, but rather if the classroom is the correct place to deliver our learning materials in the first place. If so, are we delivering distilled and most importantly relevant information?

While we value those who are ‘smart’ in medicine, we must make more effort to value those who can translate their knowledge into improving outcomes and progressing our field. This may mean spending less time on acquiring knowledge that has no application. This may also require spending more time practicing application.

I have learned the most in medicine since my 3rd year of medical school and beyond. Nothing can replace the practical application of learning about how to make an impact in a patient’s life (whether that is a medical intervention, a conversation, a diagnostic test, etc.) Additionally, there are the business and design side of medicine, most of which is largely ignored by medical schools.

I asked on Quora Once: “What non-scientific, practical things do you wish you learned in medical school (or nursing, dental, public health, etc) that you think would help support your career and/or personal interests?” There were any interesting and exciting answers about things that should be part of the educational model to give skills the help healthcare professionals succeed in their goals to deliver quality care. Perhaps these new digital resources help connect the dots between education and real-life application. If we can merge these worlds we can move further towards a change in the way medical schools teach.

Photo Credit: Eric James Sarmiento

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