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MD/MBA student suggests five ways to improve medical school

14471106513_7af0534abd_bAkhilesh Pathipati has a proposal to reform medical school. Regular readers will recognize his name from his Stanford Medicine Unplugged columns, which Pathipati says helped refine his ideas.

Now, the MD/MBA student has shared his thoughts on STAT News, the start-up medical news site that is making waves in the world of health journalism. Though the headline contains a number, a listicle, it isn't.

First, in the constantly evolving world of medicine, skills, not rote knowledge, is most important, he writes. In particular, medical students should have a sound mastery of data science. And, as an MBA student himself, Pathipati believes that business acumen is critical for future doctors. He writes:

I would argue that the knowledge and skills developed in business school have never been more relevant. Many doctors are comically uninformed about issues surrounding cost and access. As the regulatory environment grows more complex, this limits physicians’ ability to provide the highest quality care, whether advising patients on cost-effective treatments, interacting with insurance companies, or running a practice.

Physicians would also benefit from dedicated leadership training. Health care is trending toward team-based care with a doctor managing nurses, pharmacists, social workers, and more, each of whom has a distinct role.

There's plenty of room in the current four-year program for these additions, he says. Just tighten up current courses and clinical rotations. And yes, he admits, research is important, but it shouldn't be all important: "It is time for the training system to recognize and promote work that advances medicine — whether or not it is published in a journal."

Finally, incentivize teaching. Incentivize excellent teaching even, Pathipati urges:

Medical schools need to take steps to reward good teachers and help bad ones improve. Neurology is one of the highest rated rotations at Stanford. That is not by chance; the department chair reviews teaching evaluations with every attending and resident. Simply giving faculty a reason to care about teaching can dramatically improve the student experience.

Indeed. Stay tuned for more from Pathipati. My hunch is he has many more reflections to share.

Previously: Evaluating talent: Comparing the residence match and the NFL draft, Teaching in medical school: Establishing quality standards and Research in medical school: The need to align incentives with value
Photo by Dr. Farouk

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