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Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013

This Week's News

Academic leaders, innovators discuss future of medical education

Academic leaders, innovators discuss future of medical education

Thinkers and leaders at the forefront of medical education last week gathered in Chicago to explore ideas and innovations that can propel the educational system for physicians into the next century of medicine.

Part of the AMA's Accelerating Change in Medical Education initiative, the conference brought together leaders from more than 100 U.S. medical schools as well as international experts to discuss game-changing ideas for closing the gap between 20th-century medical education models and 21st-century health care needs.

"The focus of this … entire conference is innovation," AMA President Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, said. "And that's important because progress in any aspect of medicine depends on innovation."

An infectious disease physician who has specialized in caring for HIV patients, Dr. Hoven described how rapidly the science of medicine has changed over the last several decades, allowing physicians to go from simply "minimizing the physical torment" for dying patients to helping them lead longer, healthier lives.

"Just imagine what we could accomplish if we apply that level of innovation to medical education," she said.

That's what the AMA and the academic physicians at last week's conference aim to do. Among those heading up the conference's discussions were the 11 schools selected to receive $1 million grants from the AMA for bold, innovative projects that will be executed over the next five years. Each of the schools are participating in a consortium led by the AMA that will be identifying best practices and rapidly disseminating these insights to medical schools throughout the nation.

George Lueddeke, PhD, an international expert in educational development, pointed to the importance of redesigning medical education to meet modern global health needs and trends, including aging populations and the rise of such noncommunicable diseases as obesity, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

"The Accelerating Change in Medical Education initiative is a very profound, groundbreaking initiative for this nation," Lueddeke said, comparing it to the Flexner report, which shaped the path for medical education in the 20th century. "You're trying to lay the foundation for the next century."

The innovations being explored through this initiative hold promise for the future of medical education not only in the United States but in much of the rest of the world, Lueddeke said. "There's a lot of interest in [these] projects from other countries. The things that you are going to do are really going to help them."

AMA Executive Vice President and CEO James L. Madara, MD, offered some elements of what medical education of the future might look like, including competency-based curriculum, technology-enhanced learning, integrated education across medical disciplines and professions, and a greater focus on prevention and chronic disease management.

Other plenary speakers at the conference included George E. Thibault, MD, president of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, and Richard DeMillo, PhD, director of the Center for 21st Century Universities at Georgia Institute of Technology.

The conference was co-sponsored by the AMA Foundation, which received unrestricted educational grants from Pfizer Inc, Eli Lilly & Co., Genentech, Inc. and Purdue Pharma L.P.

Visit the AMA's Accelerating Change in Medical Education website to learn more about the innovative projects getting underway at the 11 medical schools.