Ghaly echoes that sentiment, noting, “Some like self-education, while others prefer a lecture style. Everyone has a different way of learning, and I think current medical school students want to be able to customize their own programs.”
Explore This IssueJanuary 2015
There has been a push to get more hands-on clinical training earlier. Some schools offer preceptorships and other clinical rotations in the first year. There also is an increase in task labs and simulators that engage learners and let them achieve their objectives in a controlled environment before patient interactions. Expansion of student-run clinics gives new students opportunities to see patients, go through the differential diagnosis process, and formulate care plans under the supervision of faculty.
Rise of Nontraditional Students
Some of the change in how medicine is being taught is driven by another major difference from previous generations: There are more nontraditional students coming into medical schools.
This change can be seen in two areas. First, more Millennials are entering medical school later in life. Second, these students have a more eclectic mix of undergraduate degrees.
“Students are coming to us with different experiences and abilities than in the past,” noted Dr. Francis, who also serves on the school of medicine’s admission committee. “Not all applicants have a biology or chemistry degree. We have admitted students leaving an established career in engineering and even some graduating from theater schools. By drawing on these previous experiences, I find that such students are much more adventurous and willing to think outside the box.”
Schools have seen an influx of applicants who are coming to them with life experiences that were not seen as often in the students who came before. These students have done more than simply shadow physicians in their hometowns—their accomplishments include completing medical mission trips or volunteering in clinics. “The foundation pieces of good medical college admission test scores, high undergraduate grades, good interviews, and letters of recommendation remain important,” said Dr. Francis. “But we are also looking for students who can add to the diversity of an entering medical school class. Such characteristics may include significant life experiences with individuals from backgrounds different from their own, experiences in research or other creative work, significant multilingual abilities, or success in overcoming adversity. Our students pull from those experiences, bring unique viewpoints to the table, and put their individual talents to use in medicine.”
Residency Will Be Different
There have also been major changes in the education of residents; however, in this case, instead of generational concerns, the biggest differences are related to the effects of fatigue on the ability to provide competent care and liability.