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A call to clarify expectations in medical training

team-720291_1920Over on STAT News yesterday, Stanford med student (and Scope contributor) Akhilesh Pathipati shed light on how medical professionals' expectations of their students play out during training:

In my experience, physicians who expect medical students and other trainees to do a good job involve us in patient care and make us a valuable part of the team. As a result, we feel useful, push ourselves to excel, and learn more in the process. Those who expect shoddy work limit our role and then conclude we had little to contribute. These encounters have far less educational value.

Pathipati goes on to discuss the importance of students, residents, and attending physicians understanding each other’s roles (and prior experience) and to advocate for medical schools and teaching hospitals "to take steps to clarify expectations." Among his suggestions:

Teaching hospitals should implement an 'educational timeout' whenever a new team starts to work together. A short, simple interaction would let trainees introduce themselves, identify their skills, and set goals for improvement. While this is done in some institutions, I believe it should be formalized across medical training.

The purpose of these changes isn’t just to make students feels better. I believe they will ultimately improve patient care. A team that communicates well can respond to a patient’s needs more efficiently than one that doesn’t. When trainees have an undefined role, they hesitate to act without approval. In contrast, students who are confident about their position are empowered to advocate for their patients.

Previously: MD/MBA student suggests five ways to improve medical schoolEvaluating talent: Comparing the residency match and the NFL draft and Teaching in medical school: Establishing quality standards
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