Changing how future physicians are educated and trained

The AMA Wire® “Members Move Medicine” series profiles a wide variety of doctors, offering a glimpse into the passions of women and men navigating new courses in American medicine.

On the move with: George C. Mejicano, MD, senior associate dean for education and professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Oregon.

How I move medicine: The work I’m doing now is moving medicine because we are changing how future physicians are being educated and trained, as well as what they are learning in medical school and residency.

There is a new emphasis on health systems science and the important skills related to communication, professionalism and problem-based learning and improvement. One of the most important concepts is that we must all strive to improve. This means that we need to have data about our performance and have the support and infrastructure to help each of us improve.

As a result, electronic portfolios, individualized learning plans, coaches, simulation and educational handoffs have emerged as important concepts throughout the continuum—not just in medical school, but into residency and practice.

What is most meaningful about the work I am doing to move medicine: The ability to influence national policy and the direction of the entire profession. The AMA’s Accelerating Change in Medical Education initiative has had a major impact on how we are educating and training new physicians and it’s been an honor to be part of that process.

The creation of a consortium of thought leaders in medical education has enabled me and my colleagues to influence the national conversation. This would not have been possible without the AMA’s strategic focus on medical education.

What moving medicine means to me: That things are evolving. Society has changed and we can’t keep doing the same things that we used to do. Just as new evidence and new technology changes clinical practice, those same forces must impact and help us move away from educational practices that are no longer beneficial. Moving medicine means that we respond to the current state while maintaining our values to forge a new way of doing things that best serve our patients and the profession.

My source of inspiration: My patients and my faculty role models.

My hope for the future of medicine: To prevent disease before it occurs.

The hardest moment in medicine and how I got past it: A patient of mine died on Christmas day when I was an intern. I was post-call and wanted to be with my family as soon as possible, but I had to sit with my patient’s family and help them cope with their loss. I realized that taking care of people is a privilege and that this was the best Christmas present I could have received.

My favorite experience working with the medical team: When everyone is working together in harmony for the good of the patient and their family.

An experience from residency that confirmed my calling as a physician: The sheer joy of finding out that I might actually be able to live up to the standards of my teachers.

An experience from medical school that kept me going: Watching my senior resident in internal medicine run a team and take care of a large number of very sick patients with kindness and expertise. 

The most challenging aspects of caring for patients: Not always being able to stop their suffering.

The most rewarding aspect of caring for patients: The relationships that are built, as well as solving difficult and perplexing diagnostic puzzles.

The skills every physician should have but won’t be tested for on the board exam: Conscientiousness, truthfulness and discernment.

One question students should ask themselves before pursuing medicine: Can you put the needs of other people ahead of your own needs on a daily basis?

A quick insight I would give students who are considering medicine: Ask them why they want to be a physician. If it’s about them, I remind them that it’s actually about the patients.

Song to describe my life in medicine: The song, “What a Wonderful World,” by Louis Armstrong.