Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012
This Week's News
AMA initiative aims to close gaps in education of med students
Editor's note: This is the first of three Special Features in a series about the AMA's strategic focus areas.
AMA CEO and Executive Vice President James L. Madara in June announced three strategic focus areas for the AMA. They are:
- Accelerating change in medical education.
- Improving health outcomes.
- Enhancing professional satisfaction and practice sustainability by shaping delivery and payment models.
AMA leaders recently gave a progress report on the association's work to accelerate change in medical education.
The key goal in this effort is to "prepare medical students of today for health care tomorrow," said Susan Skochelak, MD, the AMA’s group vice president of medical education, during a panel discussion at the AMA's Interim Meeting of the House of Delegates.
Dr. Skochelak noted the AMA is uniquely positioned to effect change in medical education. "We have a legacy in medical education that is second to none," she said. "The AMA and our Council on Medical Education have developed medical education standards for more than 160 years; historically, no single group has been more influential in shaping all phases of physician education than the AMA."
Another goal is to close the gap in the education of medical students and the continually evolving needs of our health care system, said Dr. Skochelak.
Some of the opportunities to enhance training include:
- Office-based practice competencies.
- Care coordination.
- Continuity of care.
- Familiarity with clinical information technology.
- Leadership and management skills.
- Systems thinking.
- Procedural skills.
To bridge the gaps, the AMA will partner with accredited U.S. medical schools to develop innovations and structural changes to support new models of flexible, outcomes-based education. Grants will be awarded to medical schools based on their responses to an AMA request for proposal to be issued in January.
Grant proposals will be due in mid-March, with winners announced in the summer. Schools will begin their projects in September.
One medical school dean stressed the urgency for change led by the AMA and schools: "If it's not done by us, it will be done to us," said panelist Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, chair-elect of the AMA Council on Medical Education and dean of the College of Medicine at the University of Toledo.
"There is a readiness for change," Dr. Skochelak added. While many medical schools have introduced curriculum enhancements in recent years, she said, the schools are inhibited by the current structure of courses and clerkships—variations on the century-old Flexnerian model of medical education. In addition, almost all improvements are accomplished at the individual school level, which means that changes are often incremental and are not adopted at other schools.
Dr. Skochelak also explained the AMA's key objectives for undergraduate medical education, including:
- A competency-based curriculum and methods of assessment to allow flexibility and individualized learning for medical students.
- Early student experiences in health care delivery systems and enhanced understanding of current and future practice models.
- An improved learning environment that supports students' professional development.