News Feature | October 23, 2014

Changes In Medical Education Gaining Steam

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Education IT News For VARs

The American Medical Association is focusing on aligning medical education and training with changing landscape of healthcare.

As the healthcare landscape experiences unprecedented changes in delivery, the American Medical Association (AMA) believes transforming education and training of physicians is crucial. With this in mind, the AMA launched in 2013 its “Accelerating Change in Medical Education” Initiative – an $11 million competitive grant endeavor designed to jumpstart the complex process of creating the medical school of the future.

A total of 11 leading medical schools were chosen to participate in the initiative, creating a consortium of institutions tasked with developing best practices that can be shared and implemented across the country. Already, the initiative is making strides.

Among the developments this summer are a newly designed curriculum for Penn State’s College of Medicine – the Science of Health Systems – designed to train doctors in such a way that patients have better health outcomes and less impersonal experiences that factor in the patient’s social situation and economic means, according to the Lebanon Daily News.

"We decided to start this initiative because we could see there were gaps in training that aren't related to the medical care that physicians give but that are related to the way healthcare is delivered today," explained Dr. Susan Skochelak, AMA vice president of education.

One of the gaps that exists in current medical training is the lack of exposure of students to EHRs, which they will be expected to employ once they become certified doctors. An article for the AAMC website investigated some of the issues of opening EMRs for student access. “EMRs are not at all easily accessible for educational purposes,” explained Sandrijn M. van Schaik, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine (UCSF).

Recently, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine integrated EMR training. “We felt strongly that students should have authentic value-added roles on their teams when they are in the clinical phases of training,” said Anderson Spickard, M.D., M.S., associate professor of medicine and biomedical informatics. “Our approach has been that our students will write notes on their patients and the notes would be displayed in the medical records of the patients.”

And Vanderbilt is not the only medical school integrating EMR training. According to a statement, “with the enthusiastic support of Eskenazi Health, the team from the Regenstrief Institute – the Indiana University School of Medicine's partner in the Accelerating Change initiative – has adapted Eskenazi Health's existing EMR into a stand-alone educational resource that will serve as a teaching platform for IU medical students.” IU is also developing quality and systems coaches – faculty educated in current health systems practice with expertise in EMR to work with medical students to further their training.

“There has been a universal call to transform the teaching of medicine to shift the focus of education toward real-world practice and competency assessment, which is why the AMA launched the Accelerating Change in Medical Education initiative,” said Robert M. Wah, M.D., president, American Medical Association. “The AMA is proud to be leading the charge to answer this call. Over the last year, we have made significant progress in transforming curriculum at these medical schools that can and will help close the gaps that currently exist between how medical students are trained and the way health care is delivered in this country now and in the future.”