This Month's News
New report calls for advancing the art of medicine in medical education
"It's far more important to know what person the disease has than what disease the person has." (Hippocrates)
Physicians need to understand more fully patient behaviors and social determinants that play a large role in health, according to a new report from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Broader exposure to the behavioral and social sciences during medical school and residency training can help equip future physicians with the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to practice medicine effectively in our rapidly changing health care environment.
The report, "Behavioral and Social Science Foundations for Future Physicians," recognizes that doctors' application of biomedical science will be best realized in a more engaged, holistic worldview that takes into account the complexity of responses and interactions in any system. This approach can help physicians provide better patient care, reduce medical errors, improve compliance, lessen burnout, reduce health care disparities, and improve quality and outcomes.
The report has helped inform the recommendations of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) review panel, with the new test in place by 2015. In addition, it reflects the mission and vision of new medical schools, many of which are focused on inculcating a broader set of attributes for future doctors, to emphasize the central role of the patient/physician relationship and the need for patient-centered care, trust, and communication.
The report is a follow up to a 2009 report by the AAMC and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute that outlined competencies for medical students and physicians related to the biological, physical, genetic, molecular, and mathematical sciences, as well as foundations of knowledge and reasoning.
Susan Skochelak, MD, MPH, Vice President for Medical Education at the AMA, was a member of the expert panel that authored the new report. The AMA is working to help physicians succeed in light of the changing practice landscape. For example, the Health Care Trends report, from the AMA Council on Long Range Planning and Development (CLRPD), offers timely, relevant information on current trends affecting the health care system. Updated chapters are now available online on such topics as health inequities, patient expectations and perceptions, health economics, public health infrastructure, globalization, science and technology in medicine, and health care resources.
In addition, a recent issue of the AMA's Ending Disparities e-Letter looked at the issue of the social determinants of health, particularly as they relate to health care disparities: "Despite the many advances in medicine that patients enjoy today, health care and health are not synonymous, and physicians can only do so much before meeting up against social or environmental ills that lead to poor health outcomes for many patients. That's why, when looking at treating the root causes of health care disparities, it's important to remember that what are often called the ‘social determinants of health' deserve our attention just as much as treating patients' medical concerns."