Explore this issue:January 2015
As each new generation of physicians comes along, changes in the educational experience follow. The younger groups come in with different expectations, learning needs, and styles. And the newest group also has to be trained and educated to work in a medical system undergoing seismic changes.
“The ‘Millennials,’ born between 1982 and the present, are generally characterized as being more realistic and more accepting of authority,” said Jesus Medina, MD, professor of otolaryngology at the University of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City. “They had a childhood full of trophies and adulation that makes them feel special and are prone to demand more attention. We as a faculty have to realize that and make changes to medical education to meet the reality.”
Changes in Medical School Structure
One change has been in the structure of medical school itself. Unlike preceding generations, younger physicians-to-be have grown up experiencing many of their most productive interactions in smaller groups online in convenient text and video formats. These students are likely to find the traditional professor-lecturing-the-class model less useful than Baby Boomer or Generation-X students might.
“When I was looking for a medical school, I was attracted to those schools that had a case-based approach,” said Tammer Ghaly, a fourth year medical student at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y. “You break up what needs to be known among different students who go home, learn their part and present it to the entire group. Essentially, they teach each other, with a faculty member making sure everything important is covered.”
Millennials also prefer to have more options in both the timing and method of their courses. The rise of the Internet allows them to listen to podcasts instead of attend lectures, and, rather than wading through a 5,000-page textbook, they learn best when given guidance on finding the resources they need.
Students are coming to us with different experiences and abilities than in the past. By drawing on these experiences, I find that such students are much more adventurous and willing to think outside the box.
—Carrie L. Francis, MD
“The expectation of the current group of students is that they will be able to learn at their own pace with direction and multiple reference options,” said Carrie L. Francis, MD, assistant professor in the department of otolaryngology, head and neck surgery at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City. “Most of our students, for instance, listen to podcast lectures at 1.5 to two times normal speed to use their time more efficiently.”