Earlier this month, the New York Times ran an article on the decision by NYU School of Medicine to incorporate more clinical studies into the students' first two years. Students there now meet with patients on their very first day.
Providing early clinical experience is a growing trend among medical schools (as part of Stanford's curriculum, students develop clinical skills and work with patients during their first two years), and it seems to be well-received among students and professors. In a letter to the editor published today, a Harvard med student writes:
Classroom discussion about the behaviors that exemplify these values - being clear and direct, understanding cultural context - can lead to vague and predictable conversation.
But seeing an oncologist wrestle with the possibility of delivering bad news or listening to an infectious disease specialist describe changes in AIDS treatments over three decades of shifting social attitudes - that is something else altogether.